Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott recently donated an impressive $2.74 billion to 286 organizations—with one of those lucky institutions being the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, which is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Founded in 2017, the Fund began as a $25 million campaign that sought to ensure the preservation of numerous African American historic sites across the country.
The grant recipients are the Clifton House in Baltimore, Maryland; the Lewis Latimer House Museum in Queens, New York; the Nina Simone Childhood Home in Tryon, North Carolina; Holmes Hall at Morgan State University, the largest HBCU in Maryland; and the McDonogh 19 Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana (which was one of the first integrated schools in this city, following the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared racial segregation of public schools as unconstitutional).
Speaking about this generous donation, Paul Edmondson, the President and CEO of the National Trust, said in a statement, “This generous contribution will be transformative for the Action Fund." He added, “These funds will be used to advance the Action Fund’s mission of protecting and telling the story of historic places that have been overlooked in American history, and that represent centuries of African American activism, achievement, and resilience.”
Since its creation nearly four years ago, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has raised over $30 million, thanks to the Ford, Mellon, and JPB Foundations, as well as other funders (read more about its work here!). Additionally, the Action Fund has awarded grants to a total of 65 African American historic sites—and it has also invested upwards of $4.3 million towards the preservation of historic buildings and landscapes throughout the U.S.
Brent Leggs, the Executive Director of the Action Fund, said in a statement, “This inspiring gift is an affirmation that our work to elevate the significance of Black culture in American history matters, and that preservation of historic landmarks is a form of equity.” He continued, “We are grateful to Ms. Scott and Mr. Jewett for their investment, which scales up our commitment to preserve and tell overlooked stories of African American achievement that are fundamental to the nation itself.”
Scott’s donation will certainly allow the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to continue its already successful mission. After all, it is the single largest fund in U.S. history that’s dedicated to the conservation of African American landmarks—and it will likely be able to achieve even more important preservation work thanks to this $20 million grant.
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