Projects of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

These examples showcase the many ways the Action Fund partners with communities, sites, and organizations to preserve African American culture and demonstrate the power of place as a vehicle for social and racial justice and equity.

Paul Burk

HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative

In partnership with up to eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), this program will provide technical assistance and fund new Cultural Heritage Stewardship Plans. The partnership with National Endowment for the Humanities seeks to empower HBCUs with the resources to protect, preserve and leverage their historic campuses, buildings, and landscapes, and ensures these symbols inspire and educate future generations.

Marc Sandlin

Preserving Black Churches

The Action Fund, with support from the Lilly Endowment Inc, is investing in historic Black churches and congregations to reimagine, redesign, and redeploy historic preservation to address the institutions’ needs and the cultural assets and stories they steward. We are leveraging historic preservation as a tool for equity and reconciliation and celebrating historic Black churches as centers of heritage, community, and cultural life.

"Preserving African American Places: Growing Preservation's Potential as a Path for Equity"

Under the auspices of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and funded by the Ford Foundation and The JPB Foundation, this report seeks to elevate emerging ideas, research, observations, and questions on the critically important issues of equitable development, social justice, and the practice of preservation.

Alex Green

Sites of Enslavement Initiative

The Action Fund sponsors the Sites of Enslavement Initiative, which is re-examining interpretation and issues related to historic sites with histories of slavery, not just at National Trust historic sites but across the country.

This includes the Plantation Weddings Symposium, which brought together staff from historic sites with histories of slavery, wedding and events industry leaders, organizers for racial justice, academics, descendants of slavery, and public historians to critically discuss the issue of plantation weddings and develop productive solutions.

Dana Damewood

Brown v. Board of Education

The 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education compiled cases from five communities across the South, East, and Midwest to desegregate American schools. The Action Fund is working with federal and local partners to join the stories of these places with those already being told at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas.

Maryland Historical Trust

Chesapeake Mapping Initiative

The Chesapeake Mapping Initiative is intended to ensure that places important to African Americans are better represented in historic preservation and land conservation priorities in the Chesapeake Bay region, and ultimately that more of these places are recognized and protected. It will also lay the groundwork for future mapping efforts for African American historic places by assessing the effectiveness of different project approaches.

Sharon Robert Hayes

The Legacy of Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley

The story of Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till Mobley galvanized the nation and spurred a nationwide movement for civil rights. The National Trust has joined with local and national partners to document and preserve the crucial history of the sites connected with Emmett Till’s murder, his extended visitation and open casket funeral, and the subsequent trial in which two of his murderers were acquitted.

Nancy Pierce

Cultural Assets

From sites of enslavement and self-emancipation, to homes and spaces of artists, musicians, scholars, athletes, and Civil Rights leaders, the African American story is a part of communities large and small. Explore the places—Nina Simone’s Childhood Home, Shockoe Bottom, John and Alice Coltrane Home, and more—where the National Trust has engaged through the Action Fund.

Rosenwald Schools

Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute and Julius Rosenwald, philanthropist and president of Sears Roebuck, built state-of-the art schools for African American children across the South in the early 20th century. The National Trust is providing technical assistance, grants, workshops, and conferences to help save these icons of progressive architecture for community use.

Corey Reese Photography

HOPE Crew

The Action Fund works closely with the National Trust’s HOPE (Hands-On Preservation Experience) Crew, over nine projects that include the John and Alice Coltrane Home and Nina Simone’s Childhood Home. In addition, three HBCUs, including Morgan State University, participated in our Preservation Practicum.

Reinterpretation at Historic Sites

The Action Fund has been involved in projects that try to tell the stories of our National Trust Historic Sites in creative, different ways, such as playwright Ifa Bayeza’s work about jazz musician Bunk Johnson at The Shadows in Louisiana and Makers in the Mansion at Woodlawn.

Action Fund Fellows

Since 2018, the Action Fund has supported a Fellows program with undergraduate and graduate students, emerging professionals, scholars, creatives, and experts in order to tell those stories in new and innovative ways.

Action Fund Colodny Scholars

As part of the annual National Trust Mildred Colodny scholarship, Colodny Scholars have an option of working on Action Fund projects for their intern experience, ranging from assessments of the national grant program to assisting with the Plantation Weddings Symposium and Sites of Enslavement Initiative.

  • 2018:
    Daniela Tai: MA Architecture and Historic Preservation, University of Maryland
    Jessica Pumphrey: MA Professional Studies, PR and Corporate Communications, Georgetown University
  • 2019: Morgan Vickers, PhD candidate, University of California Berkeley
  • 2020: Elizabeth Mekonnen, MHP candidate, University of Maryland

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