The Chicago church that hosted Emmett Till's funeral. The theater in Cleveland that is the oldest African American producing theater in the country — where Langston Hughes once had an in-house apartment. The sole remaining Black owned and built historic building along Southeastern Ohio River Valley's Underground Railroad corridor. These are just a handful of the 40 historic sites across the country that will receive a portion of $3 million in grant funding for preservation today.
The money comes from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund — a part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation that was created in 2017 as a response to the conflict over the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va. The group is calling this the largest fund in American history to save African American landmarks. "The recipients of this funding exemplify centuries of African American resilience, activism, and achievement," said the Action Fund's executive director Brent Leggs in a statement. "Together they help document the true, complex history of our nation."
Other landmarks include Fort Monroe, the spot marking the first landing of enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America, the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge, where Martin Luther King Jr. had an office, as well as the home of Marian Anderson, the contralto who famously sang at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. after being refused a stage at the segregated Constitution Hall.
The Action Fund has received a large influx of money in recent years — mainly due to a gift of $20 million from philanthropists McKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett.
Lonnie Bunch, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, said that the fund is "creating a lasting historical record, which demonstrates that African American narratives are integral to our nation and our shared future."