Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been an integral part of our educational system in the United States. Originally being founded in the 1830s, HBCUs cultivate an environment that was long sought after to ensure educational equality. This nations HBCUs are full of the rich history of African American activism, and their campuses also stand as pioneering pieces of landscaping and architecture.
This is precisely why on February 28, the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund declared they would be awarding over $650,000 in grant awards to five HBCUs across the country in part with their HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative.
While each HBCU embodies symbolisms of African American brilliance and triumph, the programming guarantees that each campus will collect resources to protect and sustain the historical campuses. These grants aim to preserve and revitalize landmark pieces that grace each HBCU, and to promote leadership on each respective campus.
Two differing forms of grants entail the initiative; the first being a $150,000 grant aiming to expand campus-wide cultural stewardship plans, and the second as a $60,000 developmental grant that will conserve a specific milestone building on or associated with an HBCU campus.
Each grant has the intention to enhance plans to improve and sustain varying architectural campus facilities. Launched through the National Trust’s Action Fund in 2020, the program allies with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for Humanities, Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, J.M. Kaplan Fund and The Executive Leadership Council.
The initiative set in place today entails $3.2 million set forth to the HBCUs grants, seeking influence from the Trust’s extensive years of practice to generate proposals of refurbishment and maintenance at each college or university. The National Trust’s Action Fund links with 13 HBCUs and has financed 6 campus and 7 singular-developing projects modern day.
Brent Leggs, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at the National Trust spoke on the impact that these grants would permit, stating, “These grants are significant in light of the recent threat to HBCU campuses. Preservation is the strategic counterpoint to centuries of erasure, and it underscores the critical nature of the African American contribution to our nation.
“Without the doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals HCBUs have produced, the American story would not be the same. The Action Fund’s work to preserve the legacies of intellect, activism, and enlightenment on these campuses will inspire future generations of all Americans to believe that, despite the challenge, they too can overcome.”
The following HBCU recipients include:
- Florida A&M University (Tallahassee, Florida) aiming to produce stewardship projects across their 422-acre campus (1887)
- Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte, North Carolina) to create a conservation strategy for its Historic Quad (1867)
- Rust College (Holly Springs, Mississippi) aiming to produce stewardship projects across their campus (1866)
- Shaw University (Raleigh, North Carolina) aiming to produce stewardship projects across their 65-acre campus (1865); and
- Voorhees College (Denmark, South Carolina) aiming to produce stewardship projects across their 380-acre campus (1897).
Shaw University President Dr. Paulette Dillard spoke on their excitement to be apart of the Trust’s recipients this year, stating, “The Shaw University community expresses its sincerest appreciation to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for awarding the campus a $150,000 planning grant to assist our efforts in preserving African American history.
“From educating the former enslaved to graduating some of the first African American doctors to helping ignite the civil rights movement, the legacy of Shaw University is woven into the fabric of American history. Preserving the treasures of our historic buildings extends the powerful narrative that describes the indelible contributions of this university.”
The planning grant, too, entails that all HBCU beneficiaries gain access to a paid student professional growing opportunity; one student from each individual campus will work with a team of architects, engineers and consultants to grow their campus. This funding comes from the Initiative and grows the field of African American preservationists.
Florida A&M President Dr. Larry Robinson spoke on the behalf of their campus, stating, “Florida A&M University is the third oldest campus in the State University System of Florida. We appreciate the support of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to assist the University in furthering preservation of landmark buildings on our campus.
The planning grant will allow the faculty, staff, and students across the disciplines of architecture, engineering and the humanities to collaborate in ways that highlight the national impact of Johnathan C. Gibbs, Lucy Moten and Andrew Carnegie and the buildings named in their honor. They also will help preserve the history of the Civil Rights Movement on our campus where iconic figures like Booker T. Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Marian Anderson and others changed American history.”