Story at a glance

  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation issued more than $3 million in grant funding to preserve Black American historical sites.
  • Locations with connections to the Underground Railroad and Black American arts are among the 40 sites.
  • The fund was established in 2017.

An injection of funding has been approved and allocated toward preserving 40 Black American historical sites, a donation made through the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The organization announced on Friday that more than $3 million in grants have been awarded to its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. This specific branch of the agency works to preserve historical sites and locations that are significant to Black American history.

With this grant funding, locations including Emmett Till’s funeral home in Chicago, the National Negro Opera Company in Pittsburgh, the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Ohio and the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center in Denver are some of the sites that will receive funding for historic preservation.  


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“It's exceptionally important that the Black experience is preserved and visible upon the American landscape,” Brent Leggs, executive director of the fund, told National Geographic. “It's important that we tell these stories that are overlooked to equitably understand what it means to be American. It's important that we invest in historic Black communities to stimulate revitalization and to foster interest in places that today seem to exist without history.”

The Action Fund has a total of $50 million in funding, which is the largest preservation fund that solely supports Black American sites. It was established in 2017 and has raised funds with the help of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation, as well as donations from Mackenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett. 

“We are delighted that the Action Fund continues to affirm the centrality of Black voices and experiences to historical preservation in the United States, and to broaden public awareness of the significance of these landmarks,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “The 2021 grantees – which range from museums and public libraries to theaters, historic churches, and universities — represent vital cultural sites that enrich our cities, small towns, and rural communities, and that serve as a testament to the fortitude and ingenuity of the African Americans who created them” 


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Published on Jul 15, 2021