The gentrification of historically black neighborhoods and urban centers around the country has prompted civic groups and individual citizens to preserve and protect historical black landmarks and sites.

One of many examples of such grassroots efforts is last year's successful campaign by a group of Harlem artists who banded together to save the home of Langston Hughes. Now, through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a $25 million fund has been put in place to help ensure that historical sites important to African American history are no longer endangered.

On Wednesday, The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund announced that it will be financed through partnerships with groups like the Ford Foundation and the JPB Foundation to fill financing gaps toward the preservation of historical sites. Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation told WSAV, "There is an opportunity and an obligation for us to step forward boldly and ensure the preservation of places which tell the often-overlooked stories of African Americans and their many contributions to our nation.”

One such site is the Shockoe Bottom historic slave trade center in Richmond, Virginia. The second most prominent center for slave trade between 1830 and 1865, second only to New Orleans, has been largely paved. The historic area was named on the National Trust's 2014 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2014. Funds have been earmarked to preserve the important history of Shockoe Bottom. “The preservation challenge there is how do you memorialize this place and keep the story alive to inform future generations,” Meeks said.

 Photo: Steve Helber/AP


At a time when heated discussions continue to mount on whether or not Confederate monuments and memorials should be removed, Ford Foundation President, Darren Walker had this to say, “We were concerned that the narrative around historical monuments and markers that was all about tearing things down,” he shared. “While we think there is a role to play in determining what monuments should remain, we believe that it is equally as important to create monuments and markers for people whose stories have not been told.”

We are definitely here for it.