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National Trust Awards $3 Million to Preserve Black History

Funds to be Shared by Organizations Governing 40 Sites

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced more than $3 million in grants to 40 landmark sites and organizations through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
Over the past four years, the National Trust has funded 105 historic places connected to Black history and invested more than $7.3 million to help preserve landscapes and buildings imbued with Black life, humanity and cultural heritage.
This year’s funds were awarded to key places and organizations that help the Action Fund protect and restore significant historic sites, says the Trust.
The grants covered four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation.
Some of the grantees include:
People’s AME Zion Church – built in 1910-11 in Syracuse, N.Y. and designed by Wallace Rayfield, the second licensed Black American architect in the U.S., the People’s AME Zion Church—the city’s oldest standing African American church structure—needs restoration and stabilization of its exterior.
The Hayti Heritage Center – a cultural arts and arts education venue in Durham, N.C., is housed in the historic St. Joseph’s AME Church, constructed in 1891. The grant will help repair its stained-glass windows, doors and original wooden pews.
The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission – working in conjunction with the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission, will document and map Green Book sites in both states, developing a model for a national Green Book sites marker and digital mapping program.
National Negro Opera Company – founded in 1941 by Mary Cardwell Dawson, the National Negro Opera Company in Pittsburgh was the first Black-owned opera company in America. Funds will be used to develop a feasibility study and business plan to define programming options and forge revenue models that activate and sustain operations at offices and studios that were constructed in 1908.
Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ – significant for its association with Mamie Till Mobley and Emmett Till as the site of Till’s 1955 funeral, critical structural stabilization of the 1922 Chicago church will be addressed.
Karamu House – site of poet and playwright Langston Hughes’s Cleveland residential apartment, also housed the nation’s oldest African American theater, and will be restored for use as short-term housing for emerging artists of color to be artists-in-residence.
Prince Hall Masonic Lodge – part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Atlanta is the former headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where Martin Luther King, Jr. maintained an office.
The lodge was also the site of a Madam C.J. Walker Beauty School and housed WERD, the first African American-owned and -programmed radio station. The grant will provide funding for a preservation plan to guide future restoration of the building’s character and condition.
With $50 million of funding, the action fund is the largest preservation effort ever undertaken to support the longevity of African American historic sites, according to the trust.
This year’s announcement represents the largest single disbursement in the action fund’s four-year history.
Since its inception in 2017, the trust has raised nearly $30 million due to primary support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation. This year, the fund nearly doubled in size when philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett unveiled a $20 million grant.
“The gift acknowledges the power of preservation as a form of equity and asserts the importance of Black history as a vital force in the American cultural landscape,” the trust said in a statement.

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s millennial publication. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, she attended Howard University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. A proud southern girl, her lineage can be traced to the Gullah people inhabiting the low-country of South Carolina. The history of the Gullah people and the Geechee Dialect can be found on the top floor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In her spare time she enjoys watching either college football or the Food Channel and experimenting with make-up. When she’s not writing professionally she can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com. E-mail: Swright@washingtoninformer.com Social Media Handles: Twitter: @dreamersexpress, Instagram: @Sarafinasaid, Snapchat: @Sarafinasaid

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