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35 Black Churches Receive Preservation Grants to Help ‘Reimagine’ Historical Houses of Worship

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More steps are being taken to preserve Black churches across the United States.

In a statement posted on Friday, the administrators of the “Preserving Black Churches” trust fund released their list of 35 new historic Black churches that will be receiving grants for maintenance. Totaling up to $4 million in financial grants, each recipient is estimated to receive from $50,000 up to $200,000 in funds. 

Amongst the churches that will be gifted, this grant is the First Missionary Baptist Church in Alabama, the Reedy Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Texas, the Chubb Chapel United Methodist Church in Georgia and the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Washington. 

The Cory United Methodist Church in Ohio, where activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and W.E.B. Du Bois attended and the First Bryan Baptist Church in Georgia, a church often considered to be amongst the oldest Black Baptist churches, are also among those scheduled to be given funds. 

“Leaving an indelible imprint on our society, historic Black churches hold an endearing legacy of community, spirituality and freedom that continues to span generations,” said the executive director of the fund and senior vice president of the administration, Brent Leggs, per AP News.

The “Preserving Black Churches” fund was started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund in 2021. Throughout the initiative’s run, a total of $20 million will be dedicated to preserving Black congregations across the country. The goal of the initiative is not only to preserve but also to “reimagine” and “redesign” the historical houses of worship, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In its inaugural list, the administration donated to a variety of churches with monumental importance and artifacts, totaling up to 40 recipients across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. 

One of the first to receive the grant includes the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ. Located in Chicago, the Christian house of worship was the church in which Emmett Till’s funeral was held. 

The National Marian Anderson Historical Society and Museum were also gifted funds. While it isn’t a church, the museum’s focus is on maintaining the home of the opera singer; considered to be the first African American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, Marian Anderson was known for breaking barriers and for her performance on the Lincoln Memorial steps after the Daughters of the American Revolution denied her a performance at Constitution Hall.

“The recipients of this funding exemplify centuries of African American resilience, activism, and achievement,” said Leggs in a statement in 2021. “Some of their stories are known, and some are yet untold. Together they help document the true, complex history of our nation.”

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