22 African American Historic Sites and Organizations Receive $1.6 Million in Funding

Twenty-two historic sites and organizations that preserve Black history will receive $1.6 million in grants through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently announced.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation said in a press release that the grants would be given to historic landmarks in Black history. The news of the grants, which were provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was announced by Brent Leggs the executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

“The recipients of this funding shine a light on once lived stories and Black culture, some familiar and some yet untold, that weave together the complex story of American history in the United States," Leggs said during the Essence Festival in New Orleans, according to the press release.

The grants were divided into four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation.

“Beyond saving important African American heritage sites, the Action Fund is helping Americans understand more deeply who we are as a nation,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander in a statement to the Associated Press. “We applaud the ongoing work of the Action Fund in calling greater attention to the diversity of American history and lifting up narratives that have been too long neglected or forgotten.”

One of the places that will be funded is the home of poet Langston Hughes, which is in Harlem, New York. Hughes, who was born in 1902, moved to Cleveland, Ohio with his family when he was a teenager and began writing poetry. After graduating from high school, he went to Mexico for a year before attending Columbia University in New York City. He moved to Washington, D.C. and wrote his first book of poetry called The Weary Blues in 1926. In 1930, his first novel titled Not Without Laughter won the Harmon gold medal for literature.

He would go on to write the books Montage of a Dream Deferred and I Wonder as I Wander in his home in Harlem, which is now a city landmark, the New York Daily News reported. Hughes continued to write poetry, plays, short stories and stories about Black America. The writer was one of the leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance.

“The home is emerging as a community space that empowers artists and writers to create new works through a diverse array of programming opportunities,” the press release from the National Trust for Historic Preservation read.

Another home that will be given funding from the grant is the Harriet Tubman home in Auburn, New York.

The abolitionist purchased the home in 1858 with her parents and is now a National Historic Landmark, according to the Harriet Tubman Historical Society. In 1886, her home was destroyed by a fire but was rebuilt by her second husband and brick maker, Nelson Davis.

Tubman wanted to open a home for the elderly, so she purchased land next to her home for $1,450 in 1896 to fulfill her dream. The AME Zion Church helped raise the funds with the help of a local bank that provided a mortgage for the home, according to the Harriet Tubman Historical Society. Tubman eventually donated the property to the AME Zion Church when she could no longer make tax payments on the property.

“The historic site documents over 50 years of Tubman’s work and comprises three properties: a home for the aged, infirmary, and Tubman’s residence,” the press release notes.

Another historical landmark that will receive funding from the grant is The Forum in Chicago, Illinois, which was “an essential gathering place for arts and cultural leaders, like Nat King Cole and B.B. King, who drove the Chicago Black Renaissance of the early 20th century,” the press release states.

Other recipients of the grants include the Emmett Till Memorial Commission in Summer, Mississippi; the Hutchinson House in Edisto, South Carolina; The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina; God’s Little Acre in Newport, Rhode Island; the African Meeting House in Boston, Massachusetts; the Alabama Historical Commission; the Morris Brown College’s Fountain Hall in Atlanta, Georgia; and the Pauli Murray Home and Center for History and Social Justice in Durham, North Carolina.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.