A new US$ 25 million fund, African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF) has been set up through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, that aims to preserve African-American heritage by preserving the historic heritage sites across the country.
The National Trust already has US$3 million to initiate the project that will also be used to address critical funding gaps for the preservation of these historic sites. Along with preserving the lesser known sites of historic significance and uncover some of the unknown figures linked to these sites, including the known sites like Shockoe Bottom in Richmond and Fort Huachuca Black Officer’s Club in Arizona.
Shockoe Bottom was a major slave trade hub between the years 1830 and 1865. It was named as the 14th most endangered site by the National Trust in 2014.
"There is an opportunity and an obligation for us to step forward boldly and ensure the preservation of places which tell the often-overlooked stories of African-Americans and their many contributions to our nation," Stephanie Meeks, President, and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation said in a statement.
"We believe that this fund will be transformative for our country, and we are committed to crafting a narrative that expands our view of history and, ultimately, begins to reconstruct our national identity, while inspiring a new generation of activists to advocate for our diverse historic places."
The initiative that is being funded by the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations has some known figures on its advisory panel like Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, chairwoman of the Association for the Study of African American Life among others.
"As the scholar Carl Becker once wrote, history is what the present chooses to remember about the past," Patrick Gaspard, vice president of the Open Society Foundation, said in a statement.
"The events in Charlottesville this past summer are a stark reminder of how one segment of American society chooses to celebrate a brutal past. We have an opportunity, through this tremendous project, to preserve, protect and cherish another history too often neglected—the vital story of African-Americans and their enormous contributions to the idea of America."