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National Trust announces 2020 grantees of African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

Places to See, Stories to Tell

National Trust announces 2020 grantees of African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

A mural of civil rights activist Evelyn G. Lowery in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn historic district. Community preservation organization Sweet Auburn Works is one 27 2020 grantees of the National Trust's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. ( Maureen/Flickr)

The National Trust for Preservation has announced a total of 27 historic buildings and conservation-minded organizations that will be sharing a total of $1.6 million in grant money, provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as part of the multi-year African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

Today’s announcement marks the third iteration of the initiative, which, to date, has allocated $4.3 million in funding to help protect and preserve significant African American sites, now numbering 65 in total, across the United States. Under the executive directorship of Kentucky-born preservationist and architectural historian Brent Leggs, the Action Fund ultimately aims to raise a total of $25 million, all of it earmarked for heritage projects that, per the National Trust, “draw attention to the remarkable stories that evoke centuries of African American activism and achievement, and to tell our nation’s full history.”

The 2020 grantees stretch from Mobile to Minneapolis, ultra-rural northeast Oregon to the South Carolina Lowcountry, and include a landmark modernist church in Los Angeles designed by trailblazing Black architect Paul R. Williams; the former Philadelphia home-turned-museum of noted 20th-century polymath Paul Robeson, and a modest Dallas historic district that’s the site of one of only a small handful of intact Freedmen’s Towns in the nation.

“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,” said Leggs in a statement. “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.”

founder's church of religious science
The Founder’s Church of Religious Science, designed by Paul R. Williams, in Koreatown, Los Angeles. It was completed in 1957.  (downtowngal/Wikimedia Commons)

The 2020 grantees, which, as mentioned include specific sites as well as organizations, are:

Africatown Heritage Preservation — Mobile, Alabama

Historic Vernon Chapel AME Church — Tulsa

Founder’s Church of Religious Science — Los Angeles

While We Are Still Here — Harlem, New York

The Clifton House — Baltimore

Sweet Auburn Works — Atlanta

Lewis Latimer House Museum — Flushing, New York

Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center — Joseph, Oregon

Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park — Hilton Head, South Carolina

National Center of Afro-American Artists at Abbotsford — Roxbury, Massachusetts

omaha star building
The Omaha Star building, a hub of civil rights activism and home to the Nebraska city’s only Black newspaper. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. (Dolph72/Wikimedia Commons)

Association of African American Museums — Washington, D.C.

AACHAF Vision Grant: City of Minneapolis — Minneapolis

Muddy Waters House (Muddy Waters Mojo Museum Inc.) — Chicago

The Paul Robeson House and Museum (West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance) — Philadelphia

Historic Brockway Center and Historic Lyons Mansion (Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority) — Oklahoma City

Omaha Star Publishing Company (Omaha Economic Development Corp.) — Omaha, Nebraska

Historic Dennis Farm House (Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust) — Brooklyn Township, Pennsylvania

Historic McDonough 19 Principal’s Office (Leona Tate Foundation for Change, Inc.) — New Orleans

The Tenth Street Historic District (Tenth Street Residential Organization) — Dallas

i am a man monument a clayborn temple, memphis
The I Am a Man monument at Clayborn Temple in Memphis, where Martin Luther King Jr. organized and led the city’s 1968 sanitation workers strike. (Willy Bearden/Wikimedia Commons)

Clayborn Temple (Clayborn Reborn) — Memphis

The Commonwealth Planning Project (Sweetwater Foundation) — Chicago

May’s Lick Rosenwald School (Mason County Fiscal Court) — Maysville, Kentucky

Mapping C’ville (Jefferson School African American Heritage Center) — Charlottesville, Virginia

Banneker–Douglass Museum Foundation (Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture) — Annapolis

Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network (John G. Riley Museum) — Tallahassee

Georgia African American Historic Preservation Network (Georgia Historic Preservation Division) — statewide

Montana State Historic Preservation Office (Montana Historical Society) — statewide

Grants awarded through the African American Cultural Heritage Fund are given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming/interpretation. Past grantees include the Nina Simone Childhood Home in Tryon, North Carolina, Chicago’s Pullman National Monument, and the A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama.

Among those on the Action Fund’s Advisory Council are co-chairs actress Phylicia Rashad and Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, along with Ava DuVernay, Henry Louis Gates, Sherrilyn Ifill, Lonnie Bunch, and Rep. James Clyburn.