As a visionary, Dr. D’Wayne Edwards is on a mission to immerse the Black community in more design spaces.

Beyond just talking the talk, he has also walked the walk as a leader in the design arena, responsible for creating over 500 footwear styles for companies like Nike and entertainers such as Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Nas, and more.

“When I started 35 and a half years ago, the technology wasn’t there. It wasn’t the Stone Age, but there was no Instagram and there was no Google,” Dr. Edwards said during an interview with AFROTECH™. “These things didn’t really exist, so we had to be much more resourceful. So, we were kind of almost creating in the dark… I think of that era as kind of the purity of creation and just raw talent because we didn’t have anything to compare it to.”

In 2010, Edwards established the first U.S. academy solely dedicated to footwear design. Now, he’s sharing that same sentiment through the lens of students at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).


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As previously reported by AFROTECH™, originally known as the Lewis College of Business, The Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design (PLC) in Detroit, MI, made history as the nation’s first-ever reopened HBCU in 2022.

Beyond his duties as president of the institution, Edwards also played a pivotal role in bringing it back to life with a focus on design.

“What most people don’t realize is there’s the United Nations, and the United Nations designates cities all over the world to be ambassadors for design and creativity,” Edwards explained. “The only city in America that has that designation is Detroit.”

He added, “So, here you have Detroit, which is known for the city of design by the United Nations, and then it’s also the Blackest city in America, so you have these two worlds that collide. That collision has always been there. If you’ve ever been to the city of Detroit, you drive and walk around and see some of the most amazing murals on the side of these buildings, and the mural is probably more valuable than the building.”

Edwards further unpacked the creativity within Detroit, known for Motown and being the Motor City.

“Those people are born that way. They didn’t go to school to figure that thing out, and so what we wanted to do when we discovered that Detroit once had its own historically Black college, and that it closed, because I had my own design academy in Portland, I was like, ‘Whoa.’” he shared.

Edwards concluded, “When the opportunity came to merge that closed HBCU and bring design to that business school, it was like there was no better place in America to have a design focus. That marriage was just a nice organic play, that we’re basically setting up shop in the most creative place on the planet in giving those people who were born with those artistic abilities the rest of the tools to monetize their craft, understand their value, understand the perfecting of skills and talent to make them valuable, to create their own brand or being employable at major companies.”

As the new history for PLC Detroit continues to write itself, the institution celebrated the grand opening of its new location with a ribbon-cutting ceremony coupled with the reveal of the school’s brand-new Foot Locker Footwear Creation Stu/deo on Feb. 28.

“I want to build the best design school in the United States,” Edwards mentioned. “And part of that is through having the best corporate partners that we can work with to ensure the kind of creative environment that students would want to come to.”