The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently announced that $1.6 million in grants will go towards its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to protect 22 Black sites and organizations.
The grants—which were provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—will financially support the organization’s African American fund which was designed to bring unsung narratives about the Black experience to the forefront by protecting and restoring places that are embedded in the fabric of African American history. The funds will go towards project planning, capacity building and programming.
The non-profit trust has been dedicated to preserving Black sites throughout the country and the organization is furthering its mission to ensure that these landmarks are conserved.
Amongst the 22 sites that were selected are the African Meeting House in Boston which is known to be the oldest Black church in America; Mississippi’s Emmett and Mamie Till Interpretive Center which was created in memoriam of the teen who was tragically murdered; Harriet Tubman’s former home in Auburn, New York; Langston Hughes’ former house in Harlem; the home of Negro League Baseball star Satchel Paige in Kansas City, MO; the Wright Building in Florida which was a grocery and general store for African Americans that featured Black vendors and The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., which was the site of the racially motivated 2015 shooting of nine black parishioners.
“The recipients of this funding shine a light on once lived stories and Black culture, some familiar and some yet untold, that weave together the complex story of American history in the United States,” Brent Leggs, Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, said in a statement.
“Beyond saving important African American heritage sites, the Action Fund is helping Americans understand more deeply who we are as a nation,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We applaud the ongoing work of the Action Fund in calling greater attention to the diversity of American history and lifting up narratives that have been too long neglected or forgotten.”
The Action Fund has granted a total of $2.7 million since its launch in November 2017.
News about the grants comes shortly after the organization launched a campaign to preserve songstress Nina Simone’s childhood home. The campaign was backed by Issa Rae, Talib Kweli, Mahershala Ali, John Legend and other stars.
Aside from its work to protect historical Black landmarks, the nonprofit has been focused on diversifying the preservation industry. In an effort to develop career pathways for the next generation of aspiring preservationists of color, the organization created a program that gives young African Americans first-hand experience with the restoration of landmarks.
The Associated Press and The New York Post contributed to this report.