Included within the omnibus package passed by Congress on December 23, 2022, were a smattering of public lands bills, including the African American Burial Grounds Preservation Program. This program authorizes the National Park Service to establish a $3 million annual grant program to aid preservation efforts across the country to research, identify, document, preserve, and interpret historic African American burial grounds.
The provisions allow descendant-led and preservation organizations working to protect African American burial grounds to receive funding to preserve these sacred landscapes.
“Passage of the African American Burial Grounds bill sets a new precedent for how our nation values the cultural legacy and generational memory of African Americans and their contributions to society," says Brent Leggs, executive director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and senior vice president, National Trust for Historic Preservation. "We thank Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Representative Alma Adams (D-NC), the late Representative Don McEachin (D-VA), and other advocates for their bold vision to acknowledge the role of descendant-led stewardship as part of this bill and for their leadership to ensure its passage.”
The National Trust supported this legislation in a House Natural Resources hearing, a Senate Energy and National Resources hearing, and a webinar, “Historic African American Cemeteries,” hosted by Cultural Heritage Partners.
We are so thankful to all of you who shared your stories of African American burial grounds with our leaders in Congress during the PastForward advocacy opportunity. We now look forward to working with the Secretary of the Interior, partner organizations, and members of the African American heritage community on the implementation of the grant program. If you are looking for resources to protect a historic cemetery, learn more about the Action Fund grant programs and consider applying.