One year after the launch of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has hit a funding milestone, raising more than $10 million dollars for this $25 million initiative.
The Action Fund aims to uplift stories of African American achievement, activism, and community, crafting a narrative that expands our view of history, and helps to reconstruct our national identity while inspiring a new generation of activists to advocate for diverse historic places.
“We are proud of how over this past year we’ve helped to broaden the conversation about the places that matter,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Since the launch of the Action Fund, we have seen overwhelming support across the country in saving spaces that tell the full American story.”
Launched in partnership with national foundations, and with support from a National Advisory Council, including co-chairs Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, and actress and director Phylicia Rashad, the Action Fund has changed the landscape of African American preservation. In year one, the Action Fund empowered youth through a hands-on preservation experience, modeled innovative approaches to interpreting and preserving African American cultural heritage at historic sites, continued on-the-ground work protecting significant historic places, and launched a national grant program.
“The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has seen remarkable grassroots engagement, in the more than 800 grant applications asking for help protecting African American historic places, and in the tremendous community support at newly-launched National Treasures like the John and Alice Coltrane Home,” said Brent Leggs, director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. “As we embark on year two of the Action Fund, we will continue working to foster a national landscape where every person can see themselves, their history, and their potential in our collective story.”
This year, 16 grants were awarded totaling $1.1 million to preservation organizations across the country, to support the preservation of sites and stories of black history. Grants covered work in communities from Birmingham to Chicago, including sites of struggle and strength.
In addition to grant funding, four new National Treasure designations were supported through the Action Fund, including the childhood home of singer Nina Simone, and Memphis-based Clayborn Temple, famed for its role in the Sanitation Workers’ Strike.
Work will continue in the coming year on key preservation efforts, including conducting research exploring the impact that preservation has on contemporary urban issues that disproportionately affect communities of color — equity, displacement and affordability. Additionally, support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities will continue, from celebrating their history to advocating for the reauthorization of the HBCU Historic Preservation Program which ensures that their histories and legacies are preserved.