• "When Architecture and Racial Justice Intersect" Featured in Architectural Digest

    June 9, 2020

    Signage in front of God's Little Acre, a grantee of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

    photo by: Leigh Schoberth

    God's Little Acre in Newport, Rhode Island.

    The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund was recently the subject of an article in Architectural Digest titled, "When Architecture and Racial Justice Intersect."

    Published on June 8, 2020, and written by Laura Itzkowitz, the article spotlights the urgency and import of protecting African American historic places:

    "The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have rightfully placed a national spotlight on the institutional racism that continues to plague the United States. And while it would be easy to think that architecture has little to do with racial justice and civil rights, the fight to save African American historic places proves that preservation is political. If we want to educate future generations about Black history in America, we need to work to preserve Black historic sites now."

    Read the full article to learn more about the creation and ongoing work of the Action Fund, its executive director Brent Leggs, and the many projects under way that are helping to tell our full American story.

  • Support African American History Through The 1619 Project

    June 4, 2020

    The 1619 Project is an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in America. Now you can support this groundbreaking, Pulitzer Prize-winning initiative—and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund—when you purchase shirts and totes inspired by the project.

    Thanks to the generosity of The New York Times Magazine, 50 percent of the sale price of each shirt and tote will be donated to the Action Fund, a National Trust program that examines and eliminates inequities through new forms of partnership, interpretation, and funding. By drawing attention to the remarkable stories that evoke centuries of African American activism and achievement, the Action Fund seeks to tell our nation’s full history and promote preservation as economic and social justice.

    Printed by a social-justice heritage brand, the products are available for purchase as part of The 1619 Project Collection on The New York Times Store. (You can also check out the store on Instagram and Facebook.) Thank you for supporting this important work.

    Note: For tax purposes, The New York Times’s 50 percent donation will not be viewed as a tax-deductible contribution by the merchandise purchaser.

    The 1619 Project Collection
  • A Conversation with Phylicia Rashad

    May 22, 2020

    From May 22, 2020

    As part of Virtual Preservation Month (May 2020), Phylicia Rashad, co-chair and brand ambassador for the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, and Brent Leggs, the program’s executive director, held a conversation about the power of preservation and the Action Fund’s critical work.

    From personal stories about their connection to places, to the important role that all Americans can play in telling a more inclusive American story, their discussion amplified the critical importance of preserving African American historic places. Watch a recording of their conversation and pledge your support for the Action Fund.

  • A New Era of Justice

    May 19, 2020

    Preservation is about community.

    Now is a time for us to come together as we have so many times before, but with a new sense of urgency and inclusion, and in ways that will last beyond the coronavirus crisis. As important visual and cultural clues, the places we preserve hold promise for the future we seek to reclaim, and each site stands as an historical indicator of our complex present. We need old buildings as much as old buildings need us. They prompt us to remember who we are.

    The COVID-19 virus has devastated many across the country, but due to disinvestment and systemic policies, African Americans and communities of color have been disproportionately affected. Our nation is again reminded that this disparity mirrors and reflects historical and racial inequities. We are being reminded to face the truth about our past.

    photo by: Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress

    Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

    As a movement, preservation has also mirrored traditional social values. Yet, if we lean into hope and take time to self-reflect, we can be the change we seek. We can draw lessons from the past to create a prosperous future, while also reflecting on the promise of preservation as an equity-driven movement. In our individual moments of stillness, we should ask ourselves: Can we confront the economic challenges of COVID-19 and ignite a contemporary preservation movement as a force for positive social change? How can we weave a tapestry of places and stories to tell our full, shared history? Can we challenge ourselves to realize equity-driven outcomes that benefit all Americans? Because when we collaborate, we have the capacity to create a national identity that reflects the country’s true diversity.

    In the spirit of envisioning a more prosperous and inclusive future, I invite you to join me for a special Virtual Preservation Month event with Ms. Phylicia Rashad, co-chair of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund on Friday, May 22, at 1:30 p.m. ET. (Register in advance for the webinar.) In our conversation, we will discuss the power of preservation, the work of the Action Fund, and the historic African American places that inspire all Americans to build a better world.

    Our forebearers responded to earlier preservation threats and injustices with dogged leadership, tenacious thinking, and community organizing. From the foundational work of Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, to the groundbreaking activism of Mary B. Talbert and the National Association of Colored Women, our ancestors ignited our movement by honoring the cultural memories of George Washington and Frederick Douglass. Just like these trailblazing women, we have the fortitude to walk in their footsteps and prove that by cooperative agreement we can measure up. As social critic and author James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

    The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund will continue to examine and eliminate inequities through new forms of partnership, interpretation, and funding. Our leadership is about pursuing an idea, something yet to be seen, and a culture of learning to increase our relevancy and impact. We promote preservation as economic and social justice. We partner with humility in service of African Americans whose overlooked stories and contributions provide strength and examples of overcoming impossible-seeming odds. We draw inspiration and resilience from African American historic places.

    Historic sites that bring forward a diverse and inclusive national narrative are playing a crucial role in redefining our collective history and, meaningfully, expanding the preservation movement in equitable ways. These cultural assets help us all walk toward a new era of justice. May our nation face its past to create a more just American culture with preservationists on the front lines protecting and preserving our diverse historic places and communities.

  • "The Fight to Preserve African-American History" Featured in "The New Yorker" Magazine

    January 27, 2020

    Why Do Old Places Matter Mt. Zion Rosenwald School Exterior

    The National Trust is proud to share that the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is the subject of an article in The New Yorker titled, "The Fight to Preserve African-American History."

    Appearing in the February 3, 2020, issue (under the headline "Rescue Work"), the article by Casey Cep explores how "activists and preservationists are changing the kinds of places that are protected—and what it means to preserve them."

    Read the article online to learn more about the Action Fund, executive director Brent Leggs, and the many partners and advocates who are helping save places that help tell our full American story.

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Join the movement to save and sustain historic African American places. The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund will help every American see themselves, their history, and their potential in our collective story and national cultural landscape.

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