Everett Fly, FASLA, (B.Arch ’75) returns to The University of Texas at Austin to deliver the commencement address to the School of Architecture class of 2023 on May 6, 2023.
An Honor’s graduate of the School of Architecture, Fly went on to become the first African American to earn a Master of Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Over his forty years of practice, much of Fly’s work has been in the documentation and preservation of early African American buildings and landscapes. In 2014, he received the National Humanities Medal for his body of work preserving the integrity of African American contributions to the American landscape.
“Everett Fly has never lost sight of the profound responsibility we must have for the stewardship of the built environment in its role as both the framework for and the repository of society’s full history and values,” Michelle Addington, dean of the School of Architecture, said. “His preservation work is not just of sites, buildings, and artifacts, but of the people and cultures that inhabited and enlivened them.”
Fly’s career-long study of the origins and evolution of places and landmarks designed and built by Black Americans has resulted in the documentation of more than 1,200 Black settlements, burial sites, gardens, streets, and agricultural landscapes around the country. Through this work, Fly has protected some of America’s most threatened and treasured historic African American resources and has won historical recognition for communities in Eatonville, Florida, Nicodemus, Kansas, Buffalo, New York, and other sites central to African American history.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to receive a quality architectural education at the University of Texas, and to have the opportunities to contribute to the diversity of the School of Architecture and the design community,” Fly said. “I cannot imagine myself in any professions other than landscape architecture and architecture.”
Fly’s forty-year practice as a licensed landscape architect and architect includes national multidisciplinary consultations for the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He worked as landscape architect in charge of the Texas Capitol Extension Project (1989-1993). His commitment to creating a more complete American history has also led to a lifetime of service. Over his career, he has served on the State of Texas National Register Board of Review and the City of San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission, and he chaired the board of Humanities Texas from 1993 to 1994. Fly also served appointments by President Bill Clinton to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities from 1994 to 2001.
In addition to the prestigious National Humanities Medal, recent awards include the 2018 San Antonio Power of Preservation Foundation “Champion of Preservation Award” and the 2020 Conservation Society of San Antonio “Texas Preservation Hero Award,” the 2021 Daughters of the American Revolution Historic Preservation Medal, and the 2021 Harvard University Graduate School of Design Distinguished Alumni Award.
Fly is a native of San Antonio, where he lives with his wife, Rosalinda. There, he co-founded the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum.
The School of Architecture’s commencement ceremony, headlined by Fly’s address, will take place at 2:00 p.m. in the LBJ Auditorium on Saturday, May 6, 2023. Seating is limited to those with tickets, but the ceremony will be live-streamed on the School of Architecture’s YouTube channel.
Photo courtesy Austin American-Statesman