U.S. History

Fund helps preserve, renovate important sites focused on Black history

The National Park Foundation is preserving Black history sites across the country to give a more thorough look at the nation's past.

Fund helps preserve, renovate important sites focused on Black history
National Park Service

Just a few years ago, the former home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in need of repair.

In 2018, the National Park Foundation purchased the building for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park and worked to preserve the integrity of the building and the artifacts inside. Now, future generations will be able to experience the piece of American history.

It's just one example of the national historical sites being renovated and restored through the NPF's African American Experience Fund, which launched in 2001.

"I think when you think about the park system, I think you have to remember that a lot of times the stories and the interpretation that's told at these sites was developed more than 50 years ago, and it's really time to refresh those stories and think about how the national parks can tell this more complete American story," said Lise Aangeenbrug, NPF's chief program officer.

The NPF is the official charity of the National Park Service and its 423 sites nationwide. The fund puts money into preserving history and educating youth.

"The African American Experience Fund is a little over 20 years old and was established really to help tell a more complete story of America including Black history, because Black history is American history," Aangeenbrug said.


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The fund's projects span from establishing new national park sites to preservation efforts that create new engagement opportunities. Sites are being preserved across the country.

"Another project that was recently funded was the National Underground Rail Network to Freedom," Aangeenbrug said. "Here we're really exploring and using research to look at the escape from slavery and the Revolutionary War period and focusing on enslaved individuals in that time period."

Another example is the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument which tells the Evers' history, including their role in social justice and civil rights activism. The project is funded by the African American Experience Fund and the Inclusive Storytelling Program, a project focused on sharing more diverse stories that shaped the nation's history.

The goal is to offer a more thorough look at our past.

"I think when you're learning about America, [it's] having access to a more complete story that helps you both understand and appreciate the struggles that this country has gone through, how we continue to be a democracy, and the role of the Park Service in both preserving that history and bringing it to life," Aangeenbrug said.

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