National Trust, Historic Black Churches

Preserving Legacy: 31 Historic Black Churches Receive $4M In Grants

The fund has supported over 70 historic churches through $8.7 million in grants.

On Jan. 15, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded $4 million in grants to 31 Black churches through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, which is supported by Lily Endowment, Inc.

As Anabaptist World reports, over its lifetime, the fund has awarded $8.7 million to over 70 historic churches.

Brent Leggs, executive director of AACHAF, told the outlet, “We created the Preserving Black Churches program to ensure the historic Black church’s legacy is told and secured, these cultural assets can continue to foster community resilience and drive meaningful change in our society.”

Another recipient, New Albany, Indiana’s Town Clock Church, was once a stop on the Underground Railroad, providing those escaping enslavement respite as they journeyed to freedom.

The other churches awarded were AME churches like Atlanta’s Big Bethel AME Church, out of which sprang Morris Brown College, the HBCU famously depicted alongside North Carolina A&T University in the film Drumline. Morris Brown is the first educational institution in the State of Georgia owned by Black people.

This year’s grants, which range from $50,000 to $200,000, will allow congregations to address issues such as mold contamination, demolition, water filtration and deferred maintenance, Anabaptist World reports.

Another selected AME church, St. James AME Church in New Orleans, was the headquarters of the Louisiana Native Guards, a group of Black Union soldiers that fought in the Civil War, and a meeting place during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

“The heart of our spiritual world is the Black church,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., who advises the fund, in a statement. “These places of worship, these sacred cultural centers, must exist for future generations to understand who we were as a people.”

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