Grants Awarded for the Preservation of African American Civil Rights Sites

African American Civil Rights grant
African American Civil Rights grant
Two key sites of the Civil Rights movement, l to r, Historic Hunter Street Baptist and Wheat Street Baptist churches.

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service announced $12.6 million in grants to preserve African American Civil Rights sites and history. The grants fund 51 projects in 24 states and include physical preservation as well as surveys and documentation, interpretation and education, oral histories, and planning.

Among the structures that have been abandoned and boarded up for decades that will receive long overdue restoration is the Historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Ralph David Abernathy was the preacher, and where, with Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders, nonviolence training took place and plans for significant events, such as the Pettus Bridge march, were made. The church, which receives $490,000, was given a similar grant in 2016, the first year the Civil Rights grants were awarded, for conditions assessment and restoration planning. This year’s grant allows preservation work to begin.

Wheat Street Baptist is another Atlanta site that will undergo restoration with a $500,000 grant. (The church is home to murals by Hale Woodruff, but no information about those murals was available at this writing.)

“An integral part of the Interior and National Park Service mission is to help preserve and tell America’s story,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “These grants will benefit places across the nation that help tell an essential piece of that story through the African American struggle for civil rights and equality.”

National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith said: “By working with local communities to preserve these historic places and stories, we will help tell a more complete narrative of the African American experience in the pursuit of civil rights.”

Other projects receiving grants this year include a baseball stadium used by the Negro National League in Paterson, New Jersey; the home of civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell in Washington, D.C., as well as lesser-known sites, the planning of informational exhibits and interpretive trails, and collecting oral histories.

Congress appropriated funding under President Obama in 2016 for the African American Civil Rights Grants Program through the Historic Preservation Fund, which uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf to support projects without using tax dollars.

Here are some select projects receiving funds from the  U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service. Click here for the complete list.

Alabama:
The Restoration of Mount Zion A.M.E. Zion Church Memorial Annex: $500,000
Restoration and Rehabilitation of the Perry County Jailhouse: $500,000
Preservation, Repair and Restoration of the Historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church: $500,000

Georgia:
Preservation and Restoration of the Historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church (Ralph David Abernathy III Foundation): $490,000
Wheat Street Baptist Church Historic Renovation: $500,000
Nominating U.S. Civil Rights Sites to the World Heritage List (Georgia State University): $50,000

Kentucky:
Quinn Chapel AME Church Stabilization Project: $450,000

Louisiana:
Old Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, Physical Preservation (Shreveport): $500,000

Mississippi:
Rehabilitation of the Isaiah T. Montgomery House, Mound Bayou, MS: $284,000
Restoration of Historic Old Phoenix Naval Store: $499,534

South Carolina:
Preservation and Repair or Historic Trinity United Methodist Church: $500,000
A Journey to Equal Education: Stories from Historic African American Communities: $50,000

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