May's Lick Rosenwald School, in Maysville, KY has received one of 27 preservation grants from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. (Courtesy photo/African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund)

From Paul Robeson’s home in Philadelphia, the Clayborn Temple in Memphis, to the Clifton House in Baltimore these historic sites will receive $1.6 million in grants to preserve African-American history and culture.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced last week the funds will go to 27 sites and organizations through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund [AACHAF].
“The recipients of this funding exemplify centuries of African American resilience, activism, and achievement, some known and some yet untold, that tell the complex story of American history in the United States,” Brent Leggs, executive director of the Action Fund said.
“With urgency and intention, the nation must value the link between architecture and racial justice, and should fund these and other cultural assets to ensure their protection and preservation.”
Leggs says over the past two years, the National Trust has funded 65 historic African American places and invested more than $4.3 million to help preserve landscapes and buildings imbued with Black life, humanity, and cultural heritage.
This year’s funds, provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation were awarded to key places and organizations that help protect and restore Black historic sites.
Some of the historic sites:
Association of African American Museums in Washington, DC:
With 625 members in 41 states, AAAM is the premier organization for African American museums nationwide. Funding will enable AAAM to strengthen their board and create training for its members about the preservation, identification, and evaluation of African American historic sites.
AACHAF Vision Grant: City of Minneapolis in Minneapolis, Minn.:
The world has reacted and responded to the tragic murder of George Floyd in the city of Minneapolis, which will receive funding for documenting the history being created there now as well as for uncovering the stories of Minneapolis’ African American past.
Lewis Latimer House Museum in Flushing, N.Y.:
The museum interprets the life of African American inventor Lewis Latimer, who improved electric lighting and drafted the telephone’s patent. This will help the museum with their promotion efforts and ability to engage with the public and their constituents.
The Commonwealth Planning Project in Chicago:
This visionary project will develop a community-led plan to reimagine and revitalize ten blocks in Chicago’s South Side into The Commonwealth by restoring historic structures and transforming vacant spaces and buildings into housing, urban agricultural, and cultural and educational spaces.
Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park in Hilton Head, S.C.:
Established in 1862, Mitchelville was the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States. Located on Hilton Head Island, the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park explores Gullah Geechee Sea Islands culture and African American history during Reconstruction and includes the Fish Haul Archaeological Site.
Historic Brockway Center and Historic Lyons Mansion in Oklahoma City, Okla.:
A demolition intervention success story, the 1915 Brockway Center was the headquarters of the Oklahoma City Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs for almost 50 years. The Lyons Mansion property was constructed between 1912-1926 by a prominent local African American entrepreneur. Both sites need restoration and are two of only a few historically significant African American landmarks still standing in Oklahoma City’s urban core.
Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center in Joseph, Ore.:
In the early 1920s, 60 experienced Black loggers from the South were recruited to work in the logging town of Maxville, Oregon, during a time when the state itself still had Black exclusion laws. The Maxville Heritage Interpretative Center tells their story and more about African American rural life in the Pacific Northwest.
Launched in 2017, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is a national initiative aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of Black Americans.
From the protection of Shockoe Bottom in Richmond to Fort Huachuca Black Officer’s Club in Arizona, the fund helps to support direct action needed to protect threatened sites of historic significance, address critical funding gaps for the preservation of African American historic sites, and help uncover hidden stories of African Americans across the nation.
“There is an opportunity and an obligation for us to step forward boldly and ensure the preservation of places which tell the often-overlooked stories of African Americans and their many contributions to our nation,” Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation said.
“We believe that this fund will be transformative for our country, and we are committed to crafting a narrative that expands our view of history and, ultimately, begins to reconstruct our national identity, while inspiring a new generation of activists to advocate for our diverse historic places.”

Shevry Lassiter

Who am I? I’m Shevry, the photo editor, a photographer and now producer of the Washington Informer’s digital broadcast program. Photography has been my passion since I was a teenager capturing neighborhood...

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