• Marking the One-Year Anniversary of Charlottesville

    August 10, 2018

    As we mark the one-year anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville last August, we want to pause for a moment to thank you, the friends and supporters of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, for responding to hate and violence with vision and humanity.

    With you, we are doing the work of justice by telling a fuller American story. With you, we are lifting up the stories of African American artists, activists, and achievers, whose courage across every generation moved our nation closer to its founding ideals. And, with you, we have launched the Action Fund, the largest private campaign ever undertaken to preserve African American history in the places where it happened. We have received gifts totaling $6 million towards our goal of $25 million. Thank you.

    Your passion and generosity are making it possible for the National Trust to uplift the largely overlooked contributions of African American places, from Nina Simone’s childhood home in rural North Carolina to Chicago’s South Side Community Art Center to Memphis’ Clayborn Temple. With the philanthropic support of our donors, we have awarded grants totaling more than $1 million to advance African American preservation throughout America, at places as diverse as New York’s free community of Weeksville, African American homesteader sites across the Great Plains, and the Civil Rights sites of Birmingham.

    Excavating and elevating these places and stories allows for a thorough reckoning with the complex and difficult history of race in our country, which is essential in overcoming intolerance, injustice, and inequality. As the National Trust’s Action Fund Director Brent Leggs suggests so elegantly in a Fast Company article on the events in Charlottesville, we can only understand ourselves as a country—who we are and who we aspire to be—when we have a fuller sense of who we have been over the years, together.

    We have much work ahead, but in this solemn week, we hope you will take heart from the progress we have made over the past year. Thank you for standing with us to create a stronger, more united America, one where all people see their stories and potential in the places that surround us.

    With our thanks and admiration for your support,

    Darren Walker
    AACHAF Co-Chair

    Phylicia Rashad
    AACHAF Co-Chair

  • National Trust Awards $1 Million in Grants to Help Preserve African American History

    July 6, 2018

    On July 6, 2018, the National Trust announced its first class of grant award recipients in conjunction with the newly established African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at a gathering of hundreds of thousands of people at the annual Essence Festival in New Orleans.

    The Action Fund is a $25 million multi-year national initiative aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of African Americans by protecting and restoring African American historic sites and uncovering hidden stories of African Americans connected to historic sites across the nation. As part of this mission, the National Trust’s Action Fund awarded a total of more than $1 million in grants to support grassroots efforts to preserve sites across the country.

    Grants were given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation. See the full list of grant recipients below.

    Robert S. Pfaffmann

    August Wilson House
    Daisy Wilson Artists Community, Inc.

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The August Wilson House was the childhood home of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, who is known for depicting the 20th-century African American experience through his work. Although the house is currently empty, programming actively occurs around it, from performances to celebrations of Wilson’s life and work.

    African American Homesteader Sites
    University of Nebraska Center for Great Plains Studies

    New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota. Located across the Great Plains, these six communities, built through use of the Homestead Act, were places of black struggle, hardship, endurance, joy, and triumph. At each site, African Americans sought safety and found economic opportunity, created a vital community, and educated their children to lead lives of accomplishment and personal fulfillment.

    National Park Service

    ​Buffalo Soldiers at Yosemite
    Yosemite National Park

    Yosemite, California. Between 1891 and 1913, approximately 500 Buffalo Soldiers, the legendary African American cavalry units who served throughout the West, served in Yosemite National Park as well as nearby Sequoia National Park.

    Mark Sandlin

    Civil Rights Sites of Birmingham
    City of Birmingham

    Birmingham, Alabama. These sites, including the 16th Street Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church, and Colored Masonic Temple, are places where Rev. Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy, and Foot Soldiers broke the back of segregation and changed the world.

    R. Kennedy for ACVA

    Freedom House Museum and Virginia National Urban League Headquarters
    Office of Historic Alexandria & Northern Virginia Urban League

    Alexandria, Virginia. Located in the basement level of one of the largest and most infamous slave trading operations in the world, this museum tells the story of the Virginia slave trade. The building is now owned by the Virginia National Urban League.

    ​The Grand Old Lady
    National Association of Colored Women's Club, Inc. and Youth Affiliates

    Washington, D.C. Purchased in 1954 by the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs Inc. (NACWC), The Grand Old Lady is the first permanent location of the NACWC, where it continues as the home for its administrative offices and historic documents and artifacts as well as a space for special events and meeting space for the D.C. club. The NACWC, founded by Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Mary Church Terrell, Harriet Tubman, and others, is seen by many as the founding organization for the black preservation movement, when in 1917 they appealed to citizens of Washington, D.C. to save Cedar Hill, the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

    Alexa Carter

    Historic Roxbury
    Roxbury Cultural District

    Boston, Massachusetts. Roxbury’s historic places and landscape hold a rich history of the neighborhood’s 20th- and 21st-century African American cultural heritage, including strong ties to both jazz and civil rights history. The neighborhood contains significant sites including Dudley Station, 1767 Milestone, Hibernian Hall, Dillaway-Thomas House, and Eliot Burying Ground.

    Robert Hughes

    John and Alice Coltrane Home
    Friends of the Coltrane Home

    Huntington, New York. The former home of one of the most acclaimed and influential American jazz artists, saxophonist John Coltrane, and his wife Alice, a much-admired jazz musician in her own right, the house is a modest 1952 ranch-style house in the Dix Hills section of Huntington, New York, where Coltrane wrote his iconic masterpiece A Love Supreme.

    Ryan Phillips

    Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School
    The Madison County Education Foundation and Historic Anderson Rosenwald Rehabilitation Project

    Marshall, North Carolina. In 1928, this two-room school building was constructed with the assistance of Rosenwald funds. The Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School is an example of the historic Rosenwald schools program, recognized as one of the most important partnerships to advance African American education in the early 20th century.

    Jordan Sorensen/Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation

    ​Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses
    Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation/Mary and Eliza Freeman Center

    Bridgeport, Connecticut. Widely considered the oldest houses built by African Americans in Connecticut, the Freeman Houses help to tell the unique story of the free black community in the North prior to the Civil War. The houses have been vacant for many years and are badly deteriorating.

    Steven Meckler

    Mountain View Black Officers Club
    Dunbar Coalition, Inc.

    Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Completed in 1942, now vacant, the Mountain View Officers’ Club is one of only two documented World War II-era African American officers’ clubs in the U.S. Army. As one of the last-remaining structures of its kind in the United States, it remains central to understanding both the complex history of the African American military experience and large-scale war mobilization efforts.


    Ron Cogswell

    ​Shockoe Bottom
    Preservation Virginia

    Richmond, Virginia. A national center of the U.S slave trade in the 19th century, Shockoe Bottom was home to a collection of auction houses, offices, slave jails, and residences of the prominent slave traders. Today, much of that history has since been razed and paved over, its archaeological resources largely unexcavated, making Shockoe Bottom an internationally significant opportunity for interpretation as a Site of Conscience.

    South Side Community Art Center
    South Side Community Art Center

    Chicago, Illinois. South Side Community Art Center, a groundbreaking cultural institution in the South Side of Chicago, was instrumental in launching the careers of many nationally known African American artists at a time when few art galleries would show African American work. More than just a gallery, the center provided a place for artists to teach and learn.
    Kwesi Daniels

    Tuskegee University Rosenwald School Program
    Tuskegee University Department of Architecture

    Tuskegee, Alabama. In 1881, Hampton Institute graduate and a former slave, Booker T. Washington, was assigned the role of establishing a school, without land, faculty or students. From its humble beginnings in one room near Butler Chapel AME Zion Church in Tuskegee, Alabama, Tuskegee University's campus was built into a world-renowned institution. Tuskegee University is working to teach preservation trades to a new generation, continuing the legacy of Booker T. Washington, and creating a new generation of black architects and preservationists.

    Scott Ellison Smith

    Weeksville's Hunterfly Row Houses
    Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford Stuyvesant History

    Brooklyn, New York. Weeksville, one of the first villages settled by free African Americans, was founded by James Weeks, an African American longshoreman and former slave, who purchased the land in the 1830s. Over 500 people lived in the community, which had its own churches, schools, and businesses.

    Nicola Goode

    Wilfandel Clubhouse
    Wilfandel Club, Inc.

    Los Angeles, California. The oldest African American women's club in Los Angeles, The Wilfandel Club was founded in 1945 by black women in response to segregation that limited access to public facilities. Along with 50 friends, Fannie Williams and Della Williams, wife of architect Paul Williams, raised funds to buy a site that offered all races an affordable venue for various gatherings.

  • On MLK Day, Let’s Tell the Whole American Story (from Time: Ideas)

    January 15, 2018

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington, D.C.

    photo by: Carol Highsmith

    The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

    “On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day dedicated to the legacy and history of a man who committed himself to sharing and growing the civil rights movement, we must remember that what we choose to save and celebrate has a direct impact on people’s understanding of themselves. It shapes us and sends a message about what is possible in our own lives. And it has the power to influence and inspire generations to come.”

    Read more in today’s TIME ideas piece, authored by National Trust President and CEO Stephanie Meeks, and Ford Foundation President, and African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Advisory Council Chair Darren Walker: On MLK Day, Let’s Tell the Whole American Story.

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