Cultural centers

Emmett Till’s House and Other Black Cultural Sites to Obtain Preservation Funds

An African-American cultural preservation organization announced Tuesday that Emmett’s childhood home will be one of 33 sites and organizations across the country to receive part of $3 million in grants.

The grant money from the African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, an initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will go towards the preservation and protection of various places integral to black history. The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund was launched in 2017 with the goal of “elevating and preserving the stories and places of African American resilience, activism and achievement,” said Fund executive director Brent Leggs told CNN on Tuesday.

Leggs, who is also senior vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said the 2022 selection of grant recipients highlights the beauty and complexity of black culture and history in America.

“This year, we wanted to make sure we balance public memory and not just showcase places associated with a painful past, but uplifting stories of arts, culture, entrepreneurship and achievement that are fundamental to the nation. herself,” Leggs said.

This is the fifth year that the fund has awarded national grants to places symbolizing important aspects of black history, with new sites being selected each year. This year, Leggs said the $3 million encompasses grants ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 going to different locations based on the fund’s four funding categories: building capital, increasing organizational reach, planning for project and education and programming.

Here are some of the sites that will be preserved, how much funding they have received, and the stories behind their cultural significance.

Grandma Till Mobley and Emmett Till’s house

Money allocated: $150,000

In the years leading up to the gruesome murder of her son that spurred the civil rights movement in America, Grandma Till Mobley and Emmett lived in a two-story Victorian house in the South Side Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago.

After Emmett’s death, Till Mobley continued to live in the house until 1962, working to honor his only son’s legacy while dedicating his life to advancing civil rights.
Last year, the house, built in 1895, was granted landmark status by the Chicago City Council.

The grant will focus on creating a project manager position focused on programming and heritage projects, including repairing the interior of the house to look like it did in 1955, when Emmett lived there for the last time.

The birthplace of bebop jazz

Money allocated: $100,000

The Blue Bird Inn.
Detroit’s Blue Bird Inn served as an institute for black musicians who were integral to the development of modern music around the world. Opened in 1937, “The Bird” featured live music and was a haven for Detroit’s black community who lived in a deeply segregated city after World War II.

Performers at the historic site included renowned jazz artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan.

In 2020, the site was officially named a Historic District by the City of Detroit.

As part of the grant project, the Blue Bird will undergo a series of interior rehabilitation projects with the goal of once again serving as an archive, music venue and gathering space for the Detroit community.

A black-owned bank that served as a ‘symbol of progress’

Money allocated: $94,000

Mound Bayou Bank.
The Mound Bayou Bank of 1904 represented the entrepreneurial spirit and business enterprise of Jackson, the prosperous black community in Mississippi. Founded by Charles Banks, described by Booker T. Washington as “the most influential black businessman in the United States”, the bank supported the economic development of Jackson’s black community.

The locally owned bank provided space for community members to purchase shares, meaning black residents could invest in their community.

The banks’ entrepreneurial efforts are said to have reversed the racism that dictated daily life in Mississippi in the 20th century.

The grant will be used for exterior rehabilitation aimed at consolidating the bank’s future as a museum and visitor centre.

The church where civil rights marchers met before Selma’s ‘Bloody Sunday’

Money allocated: $150,000

Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In 1965, civil rights organizers – including the late civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis – met at Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in preparation for a march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery , the state capital, to defend the right to vote. .

As protesters attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, they were met by a group of state troopers who stood ready to attack and brutalize them. The defining civil rights moment known as “Bloody Sunday” was a catalyst for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Like other black churches at the time, the downtown church served as an organizing space for members of the black community to unite and work toward racial justice efforts during the civil rights movement .

The new funds will address water and termite damage as well as the replacement of some structural beams of the church cupolas.

A premier music venue for black musicians

Money allocated: $100,000

The Eldorado Ballroom, seen in January 2021.

The Eldorado Ballroom was listed in The Green Book, a guide that helped black people navigate the country safely, as a “must see” site for African Americans in Houston, Texas.

Built in 1939, the ballroom has served as a retail space and concert hall, hosting performances by music legends like James Brown and Ray Charles as well as jazz performances by local artists.
The ballroom billed itself as the “home of happy feet” to showcase its eccentric musical performances and large, crowded dance floor.

The grant project will repair and restore the ballroom windows on the first and second floors.