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National Park Service Announces $14 Million in Grants to Preserve African-American Civil Rights

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Hamtramck Stadium in Hamtramck, Michigan is one of only five major league Negro League ballparks remaining in the country. Photo courtesy of Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium.

The National Park Service (NPS) will provide $14 million in African American Civil Rights Historic Preservation Fund grants to fund 51 projects across 20 states and the District of Columbia that will preserve sites and history related to the African-American struggle for equality in the 20th century.

“These grants will fund important projects that document, interpret, and preserve sites that tell the stories of the African American experience in the pursuit of civil rights,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela, exercising the authority of the Director, in a press release. “Thanks to the coordination of public and private partners, these projects will help connect Americans to historic places that preserve American history.”

Congress appropriated funding for the African American Civil Rights Grants Program in 2019 through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). The HPF uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, providing assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars. Grant-supported projects include surveys and documentation, interpretation and education, oral histories, architectural services, historic structure reports, planning, and physical preservation.

“From 1923 to 1953, the Americus Colored Hospital was the only medical facility in the South where black medical professionals could practice and serve people of color. This hospital was vital to African Americans during Jim Crow and produced more trained professionals than larger cities like Atlanta, New York, and Chicago. During the Civil Rights Movement in Americus, the building became a Freedom Center and continued to serve the African American community in a new way,” said Georgia Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. in a statement. “I am pleased this grant will preserve the Colored Hospital so future generations can learn about the strong civil rights history in southwest Georgia.”

Projects receiving grants this year will preserve resources, places, and stories like the Shepard Library at Stillman College, the Albert Kahn House in Detroit, Michigan, and the Greenwood Center buildings in Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to a press release. Grant projects also include surveys across the country from Montgomery, Alabama to Muskegon, Michigan to identify lesser-known civil rights sites.

“The preservation of these projects is an invaluable investment in the campuses, communities and individuals they serve,” said South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn in a statement. “I am pleased that these funds will continue to allow our communities to learn from the Civil Rights Movement and the important role that South Carolina played in making America’s greatness apply more fairly and equitably to all of its citizens.”