$1.6 Million in Grants to Organizations Dedicated to Uncovering Untold Stories and Preserving Black History

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Morris Brown College’s Fountain Hall is among the 22 recipients of $1.6 million in grant funds from the National Trust for Historic Preservation through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (Action Fund). The award was announced at Essence Festival in New Orleans last week.

Now in its second year, the Action Fund has granted a total of $2.7 million since its launch in November of 2017.

Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, underscored the importance of this work, noting, “The recipients of this funding shine a light on once lived stories and Black culture, some familiar and some yet untold, that weave together the complex story of American history in the United States.”

With its distinctive tower situated at the top of Atlanta’s “Diamond Hill,” Fountain Hall (Association for the Study of African American Life and History – Atlanta Branch) housed W.E.B. Du Bois’ office, where he wrote his seminal work The Souls of Black Folk. Located on Atlanta’s Westside, this vacant and deteriorating building is the oldest surviving building associated to Atlanta University, one of the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the South.

The Action Fund is a $25 million multi-year national initiative aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of African Americans by protecting and restoring African American historic sites and uncovering hidden stories of African Americans connected to historic sites across the nation. Other 2019 awardees include the home of Negro League Baseball phenom Satchel Paige; the Emmett Till Memorial Commission; ‘The Forum’ in Chicago’s Bronzeville; and more.

This year’s funds, provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, were awarded to key places and organizations that help the Action Fund achieve its mission of protecting, restoring, and interpreting African American historic sites and uncovering hidden narratives of African Americans and their contribution to the American story. Grants are given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation.

“Beyond saving important African American heritage sites, the Action Fund is helping Americans understand more deeply who we are as a nation,” remarked Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We applaud the ongoing work of the Action Fund in calling greater attention to the diversity of American history and lifting up narratives that have been too long neglected or forgotten.”

External review for grant applications was provided by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

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