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.”
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
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
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.