The Legacy and Impact of Charles Claybourne Allen

In this blog, I want to highlight Charles Claybourne Allen one of trailblazing pioneers in black urban planning.

Charles Claybourne Allen was born in 1936 to John Christopher Allen and Margaret B. Colvert Allen. In 1958, he graduated from Hampton University with his Bachelor's in Architecture. He later served in the U.S. Army as captain at Fort Hood. He became the first African-American to graduate with his Master's in Urban Planning from Columbia University School of Architecture in 1963. After graduating with his Master's, Allen began his urban planning career working with Clarke and Rapuano, where he was involved in the creation of different urban and community renewal programs. In 1968, he was hired as Director of Planning and Community in Gary, Indiana, becoming the first African-American to be hired as a planning director in a major U.S. city. During his tenure in Gary, Indiana, he became heavily involved in the community by creating different citizen participatory groups. His most important accomplishment while working in Gary was developing the Community Development Block Grant, which is one of the longest programs in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. His planning experience spans more than 59 years with a list of accomplishments such as becoming Vice Mayor of Newport News, Virginia (1996-2008) and developing the comprehensive land use plan which resulted in the creation of a new ordinance. In 2004, Allen was inducted to the American Institute of Certified Planners of College Fellows in recognition of his legacy and impact. He passed away on January 20, 2017 at age 81.

The reason I wanted to highlight Charles Claybourne Allen is because he paved the way for future black urban planners to have a dream of one day becoming Planning Director for their city and to have the same impact as he did on our cities. One of my major goals in the planning field is to be Director of Community Development or Planning Director of a city. It is very important to never forget those who paved the way for us to be in the position that we are in today.

References: 2020.Bill Tracking - 2017 Session > Legislation. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 September 2020].

American Planning Association. 2020.In Memoriam: Charles Claybourne Allen, FAICP. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 September 2020]. 2020.Charles Allen - Obituary. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 September 2020].

Gordon Linton is a Planner I for the city of Stockbridge, Georgia. He graduated with his Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of West Georgia in 2017. He graduated with his Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice from Fort Valley State University in 2014.

To contact Gordon you may reach out to him at:

LinkedIn: Gordon Linton

Instagram: MrFloridaBoy29

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