$20 Million Donated To Preserve Historic Black Churches

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation has introduced a new fund to preserve and restore Black churches across the United States.  

The Preserving Black Churches Project was announced on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with $20 million set aside for black churches throughout the country. According to the project’s website, $20 million will be used to “reimagine, redesign, and redeploy historic preservation to address the institutions’ needs and that cultural assets and stories they steward.” The money is primarily donated by the philanthropy organization Lilly Endowment from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

Executive Brent Leggs at The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund told ABC News, “Black churches are exceptionally important in American democracy, not only for their legacy in civil and human rights but also for their role in uplifting civic identity and community empowerment.” 

Founded in 1868, St. James AME Church in Mayfield, Kentucky is one of the first churches to receive money from the fund. The church was severely damaged during tornadoes that destroyed the state in December. The church will receive $100,000 from the fund, Reverend Ralph Johnson welcomed the donation and said that the church needed any help that was given. Reverend Johnson expressed how important preserving Black churches are, and that they often served as sanctuaries after the Civil War ended. 

“Once the slaves were freed, one of the things they wanted to start was a church home. They wanted to work out their spiritual salvation and have a place to congregate, and they also were used as schools and other things,” Reverend Ralph Johnson told the Associated Press.  

The Preserving Black Churches Project plans to help in many other ways, including establishing a national grant to fund the staffing and operations of Black churches, increasing digital documentation and media relations, and creating a specific fund to address “imminent threats” across the country. 


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