Historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country hold an immeasurable amount of cultural significance and a new endowment will ensure that historic areas on their campuses are preserved. According to Afrotech, several institutions have received funding from the National Trust.
The effort—dubbed the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship—is being spearheaded by the leaders of the organization’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Through the $650,000 initiative, the HBCUs will develop preservation plans for structures on their campuses, some of which were developed and constructed by Black architects. The project was designed to honor the rich cultural history harbored at HBCUs and empower the next generation of leaders. As part of the initiative, students will implement and lead the preservation strategy. Amongst the schools that have received grants are Tuskegee University, Benedict College, Morgan State University, Stillman College, Jackson State University, Philander Smith College, Lane College and Spelman College.
Brent Leggs, Executive Director of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, says it’s crucial to preserve these pillars of history. “They stand as a living testament to African American history and the ongoing achievements of highly influential Americans. But they continue to be overlooked and underfunded,” he said in a statement. “The starting point is to equip HBCUs with the resources, knowledge and information they need to invest in their historic assets.”
The National Trust has been dedicated to protecting historic sites and increasing diversity in the preservation field. In 2019, the organization launched a youth program dedicated to preserving sites connected to Black achievement and activism. Among some of the projects the program participants worked on was the rehabilitation of the former homes of late songstress Nina Simone, playwright August Wilson and John and Alice Coltrane.