WASHINGTON – The National Park Service (NPS) awarded $21 million today to 37 projects in 16 states as part of the Historic Preservation Fund’s African American Civil Rights grant program, which funds preservation projects and efforts of sites tied to the struggle of African Americans to gain equal rights.
“The National Park Service is proud to award this grant funding to our state and local government, and nonprofit partners to help them?recognize places and stories related to the African American experience,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams.?“Since 2016, the African American Civil Rights program has provided over $100 million to document, protect, and celebrate the places, people and stories of one of the greatest struggles in American history.”
This year’s grants will support the preservation of sites like the Ashby Theatre, St. Paul United Methodist Church and the Americus Colored Hospital.
Atlanta’s Ashby Theatre opened in 1934 offering African Americans a state-of-the art experience and welcomed them through the front door to watch movies on the main level.?Herman Perry, a successful African American entrepreneur who founded Citizens Trust Bank, which is among the largest African American-owned financial institutions in the country today, built the theater.?Grant funds will support removal of hazardous material, building assessments, stabilization, and exterior improvements.
During the Birmingham demonstrations in 1963 against racial segregation, St. Paul hosted mass meetings and held training sessions in nonviolent civil disobedience for the young demonstrators who participated in the Children’s Crusade marches.?Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, who established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was pastor of the church.?The grant funding will improve mechanical and plumbing systems.?The applicant is providing $26,000 in matching funds.
The Americus Colored Hospital in Georgia provided high-quality, full-service health care to African Americans from 1923 to 1953 and was a facility where black medical professionals could train, practice, and serve.?With a significant population of health professionals, Americus had a thriving African American middle class.?In the 1960s, the building became one of two Freedom Centers to help people register to vote.?This grant will fund installation of new electrical and HVAC systems and provide interior repairs.