Penn Center receives $ 750,000 grant to diversify historic preservation


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The $ 750,000 award will be used by the Weitzman School to support the CPCRS capacity building initiative for the sustainable preservation of civil rights heritage places. Credit: Katharine Cocherl

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Weitzman School of Design Civil Rights Site Preservation Center $ 750,000 for historic preservation.

The award is part of a $ 1.5 million grant to Penn and the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science at Tuskegee University, Weitzman News reported. The grants will support the Capacity Building Center for the Sustainable Preservation of Civil Rights Historic Places initiative, which aims to give new preservation professionals an understanding of the imbalances in determining which historic places to preserve.

The two universities to which the grant was awarded will develop strategies with historically black colleges and universities to redevelop the field of historic preservation to take into account the roles of historic places, organizations and communities that are committed to the civil rights, Weitzman News reported. Penn and Tuskegee’s partnership will focus on establishing the sustainability of iconic black heritage places and organizations in American civil rights history.

The Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites, which was launched in October 2020, is committed to developing relationships with historically black colleges and universities through joint research and fieldwork programs at the sites. preservation and exposure of HBCU students to career paths in design.

Penn and Tuskegee started a formal partnership with assistance from the JM Kaplan Fund in 2020, which led to joint student-centered field projects, curriculum development, classroom assignments and other academic programs for students undergraduate and graduate students. The alliance envisioned longer-term projects focused on community efforts linking the legacy of civil rights with economic development, the arts and culture sectors, and urban planning processes.

One of the historic sites that will be restored with the new grant is the AG Gaston Motel in Birmingham, a key site of the anti-segregation movement in the city, Alabama News Center reported.

The grant-funded project marks the start of the “Humanities in place” from the Mellon Foundation initiative that aims to diversify and deepen public dialogue on American history.

“The field of historic preservation, long dominated by institutions marked by white privilege, has historically had a blind spot on many issues of importance to black heritage, from lists and leadership to public policy and opportunities for development. academic studies, “said acting head of the architecture department at Tuskegee Kwesi Daniels told Weitzman News:” There is an urgent need to build the capacity of black-led organizations to achieve the goals of black heritage sites and culturally resonant, community-serving and financially sustainable civil rights.


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