They’re preserving Black history!
The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF), a program within the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was launched just six years ago, Black Enterprise reports. Its goal is to commit funding to preserve African American historic sites across the country, already raising more than $95 million for its mission. Currently, it is considered the largest resource dedicated to the preservation of Black historic sites, allocating grants ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 to support preservation in four different categories, including education and programming, project planning and development, building capital, and increasing organizational capacity.
This past Juneteenth weekend, the AACHAF announced its most recent grant recipients, allocating $3.8 million in grants to preserve and protect 40 African American historic sites across the U.S., including heritage trails, HBCUs, theaters, and more!
“The history embodied in these places is emblematic of generational aspirations for freedom, the pursuit of education, a need for beauty and architecture, and joys of social life and community bonds…That’s why the Action Fund believes all Americans must see themselves and our shared history in this year’s grantee list if we are to create a culturally conscious nation,” said AACHAF executive director Brent Leggs.
The grant funding will support the preservation of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, a trail using augmented reality to guide visitors through 3-D representations of pertinent people and places. Funding will also go towards the Elktonia Beach Heritage Park, a former Green Book-listed recreational area for Black beachgoers purchased in 1902 by formerly enslaved veteran Fred Carr. Other recipients include the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin, to preserve the sites of Alonzo Robinson Jr., the first Black registered architect in Wisconsin, Los Angeles’ Lincoln Theatre, The Peter Bug Shoe Academy in Washington, D.C., Idlewild’s Hotel Casa Blanca, and the Neosho Colored School, the birthplace of inventor George Washington Carver.
While remarkable, the Action Fund has been critical over the last few years in making sure significant sites contributing to Black history are protected. Earlier this year, Leggs partnered with a group of celebrities to fundraise for the preservation of Nina Simone’s childhood home. Named a historically significant site by the National Trust in 2018, celebrities like Venus Williams partnered with Leggs and his team to ensure enough funding was raised to restore the home.
To date, the Action Fund has supported 242 historic African American sites, investing more than $20 million in preservation efforts, the National Trust for Historic Preservation reports. To check out the full list of newly protected African American Historic sites, click here.
Cover photo: Historic Preservation Trust commits $3.8 million to preserve 40 African American historic sites across the U.S./Photo Courtesy of Carver Birthplace Association