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11 Black Heritage Sites That Received Preservation Grants Can Continue Their Missions

By Danielle Dorsey

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There’s a saying that in order to know where you’re going you have to know where you’ve been. It’s a cheeky way of recognizing that unless we learn from our collective histories, we’ll be doomed to repeat them. To assist in this education, groups across America have worked tirelessly to secure funding for the protection and preservation of the nation’s numerous Black heritage sites. 

All of the sites on this list received grants from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, an effort by the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

1. African Meeting House and Abiel Smith School – Boston, MA

Built in 1806, the African Meeting House is the oldest known Black church in America and initially served as an integral meeting place for early abolitionists. The school was built in 1835 and was the first public education facility for free Black children in Boston. 

2. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church – Charleston, SC 

The historic Emanuel AME Church was the site of a racist terrorist act that killed nine Black members in 2015. Recently won preservation grants will help the oldest AME congregation south of Baltimore return to its former glory. 

3. Emmett Till Interpretive Center – Sumner, MS

Located in the Tallahatchie County Courthouse, the Center interprets Emmett Till’s murder and the brave actions of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who forced white America to face the violence they played blind to. 

4. The Forum – Chicago, IL 

The Forum is the oldest community meeting and performance hall in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Once a gathering place for artists and Chicago Black Renaissance leaders Nat King Cole and B. B. King in the early 20th century, the Forum has been vacant for decades. 

5. Harriet Tubman Home – Auburn, NY

Abolitionist Harriet Tubam purchased this homestead in 1857, but it’s since transformed into the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park. The historic site documents over 50 years of Tubman’s work.

6. Historic Evergreen Cemetery – Richmond, VA

The Historic Evergreen Cemetery will see some much needed landscape maintenance thanks to preservation grants. The memorial park is a 60-acre monument to Black achievement from the Civil War era through the early 21st century.

7. Langston Hughes House – Harlem, NY 

One of the most well-regarded figures of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes spent the last 20 years of his life at this Harlem brownstone.

8. McGee Avenue Baptist Church, Stuart Street Apartments – Berkeley, CA

The church was the first Black Baptist congregation to settle in the area in 1918 and plans to transform the Stuart Street Apartments into an affordable co-op to empower one of the oldest Black communities in Berkeley.

9. Morris Brown College’s Fountain Hall – Atlanta, GA 

Currently vacant, Fountain Hall is the oldest surviving building at Atlanta Univesity, one of the first HBCUs in the South. It also housed W.E.B Du Bois’ office and is where he wrote his influential work “The Souls of Black Folk.” 

10. Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice – Durham, NC 

The early home of queer Black activist, feminist, lawyer, and Episcopal priest Pauli Murray is being restored and will share information about her life and legacy. This site is located in a historically working-class African American community. 

11. Wright Building – DeLand, FL

Built in 1920, the Wright Building was a Black grocery and general store in segregated Florida. Owner James Wright supported the local Black economy by leasing retail spaces on the second floor of the building. It will soon be restored with the intention of supporting economic development in the Black community.

For more details and to see the full list of heritage sites that received preservation grants, click here.

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