The National Trust for Historic Preservation, in partnership with the Ford, JPB, and Open Society foundations, has announced a $25 million fund for the protection and restoration of African-American historical sites.
With additional funding from the Hewlett, Nathan Cummings, Doris Duke Charitable, and MacArthur foundations, the African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF) will support direct action designed to protect threatened sites of historic significance, address critical funding gaps with respect to the preservation of African-American historic sites, and help uncover hidden stories of African Americans connected to those sites. The trust will work with partners to preserve a range of sites, from Shockoe Bottom in Richmond to the Fort Huachuca Black Officer's Club in Arizona.
The fund's advisory council includes Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, who will serve as chair; Lonnie G. Bunch III, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Henry Louis Gates, Jr., director of the Hutchins Center for African American Studies at Harvard University; actress, singer, and director Phylicia Rashad; and Marita Rivero, director of the African American Museum of Boston and Nantucket.
In addition to awarding grants through the fund, the trust will work to empower African-American youth through its Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE Crew) program, research preservation's impact on contemporary urban problems that disproportionately affect communities of color, and advocate for preservation funding for underrepresented communities.
"Without a thorough reckoning with the complex and difficult history of our country, especially when it comes to race, we will not be able to overcome intolerance, injustice, and inequality," said Walker. "We have an opportunity with this fund to broaden the American narrative to reflect our remarkably rich and diverse history."
"As the scholar Carl Becker once wrote, history is what the present chooses to remember about the past," said Patrick Gaspard, vice president of the Open Society Foundations. "The events in Charlottesville this past summer are a stark reminder of how one segment of American society chooses to celebrate a brutal past. We have an opportunity, through this tremendous project, to preserve, protect, and cherish another history too often neglected — the vital story of African-Americans and their enormous contributions to the idea of America."