Launched in 2017 in partnership with the Ford, JPB, and Open Society foundations, with additional funding from the Hewlett, Nathan Cummings, Doris Duke Charitable, and MacArthur foundations, the $25 million fund supports efforts to protect, restore, and interpret African-American historic sites and uncover the stories and contributions of African Americans to U.S. history. Funded this year by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, grants were awarded in the areas of capacity building, project planning, capital projects, and programming and interpretation.
The twenty-two sites and organizations receiving grants include the African Meeting House (Boston, Massachusetts), which was built in 1806 and is the oldest existing black church building in the country built primarily by black artisans; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina), which was built in 1891 and was the scene, in 2015, of a horrific racially motivated mass shooting; and the homes of abolitionist Harriett Tubman (Auburn, New York), writer Langston Hughes (Harlem, New York City), and civil rights and LGBTQ and women's rights activist Pauli Murray (Durham, North Carolina).
Grants also were awarded to the Emmett Till Memorial Commission (Sumner, Mississippi), which runs the Emmett and Mamie Till Interpretive Center; the Preservation Society of Newport County (Rhode Island), in support of efforts to preserve the largest and most intact colonial-era African burial ground in the country; the Oregon Black Pioneers Corporation, which works to preserve and raise awareness of the history of African Americans in the state; and the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, in support of its Treme Neighborhood Revival Grants Program.
"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. "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."
For a complete list of this year's grantees, see the National Trust website.