• Pre-order these books before November 16 to support the Action Fund

    September 24, 2021

    For every copy of The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story and Born on the Water preordered before November 16, Penguin Random House will donate a book, up to 2,500 copies, to projects supported by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, historically black colleges and universities, graduate historic preservation programs, and other schools.

    In late August 1619, a European slave ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years and shaped a national landscape and built environment imbued with Black history.

    The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project” issue reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. These books substantially expand on that work, weaving together essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance.

    Preorder your copies today to help us #TellTheFullStory.

  • African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Receives $20 Million MacKenzie Scott Grant

    June 16, 2021

    Lewis Latimer House Museum, Flushing, New York

    photo by: Lewis Latimer House Museum | Adrian Sas

    On June 15, 2021, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced that she has awarded a grant of $20 million to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The National Trust is one of 286 organizations across the country and around the globe that will receive a total of $2.7 billion in grants from Ms. Scott and her husband, Dan Jewett.

    “This inspiring gift,” said Brent Leggs, Executive Director of the Action Fund, “is an affirmation that our work to elevate the significance of Black culture in American history matters, and that preservation of historic landmarks is a form of equity. We are grateful to Ms. Scott and Mr. Jewett for their investment, which scales up our commitment to preserve and tell overlooked stories of African American achievement that are fundamental to the nation itself.”

    Read the press release to learn more, and dive deeper into the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund here.

  • Learn How Preservationists Are Honoring the Legacy of Mary Cardwell Dawson

    February 1, 2021

    In the February 2021 issue of Opera News, learn more about Mary Cardwell Dawson, the founder of the longest-running, all-Black opera company in the United States, and the place where her vision took shape: the National Negro Opera Company house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    Understanding the current condition of the National Negro Opera Company house is critical at this moment. Standing vacant for decades, the building has deteriorated as a result of weather exposure and vandalism, prompting its listing on the 2020 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

    The National Trust has partnered with the NNOC’s owner, Jonnet Solomon, the Young Preservationists Association (YPA), and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation to help save the building. Together they are utilizing a $4,000 Intervention Fund grant awarded by the National Trust to assess the existing building conditions and prepare a report with recommendations and cost estimates for emergency stabilization.

  • Brent Leggs in The Art Newspaper: We Need Monuments Celebrating African American History

    July 3, 2020

    Nina Simone's Childhood Home, a white clapboard house with black trim.

    photo by: Nancy Pierce

    Nina Simone's Childhood Home (a National Treasure) in Tryon, North Carolina.

    Brent Leggs, executive director of the National Trust's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, has published a powerful op-ed in The Art Newspaper titled, "US needs monuments celebrating African American history, not Confederate statues."

    Leggs' article from July 3, 2020, outlines how "telling America’s overlooked stories is fundamental to building a true national identity." He advocates for acknowledging the unvarnished history behind Confederate monuments and taking the opportunity to expand the conversation in bold, more inclusive ways. Of note:

    "How should America preserve Confederate monuments so that we never forget their meaning and harm? What’s the role of the African American community, civic leaders, preservationists, artists and funders to envision landscapes of understanding and reconciliation? The purpose of preservation practice is not to stop change, but to offer tools that help a society manage change in ways that do not disconnect it from the legacy of its past. Done right, historic places can foster real healing, true equity and a validation of all Americans and their real history."

    Read Leggs' full essay to learn more about the Action Fund; sites of Black resilience, activism, and achievement; and possible approaches that "represent the best in the human experience."

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