As we mark the one-year anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville last August, we want to pause for a moment to thank you, the friends and supporters of the National Trust and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, for responding to hate and violence with vision and humanity.
With you, we are doing the work of justice by telling a fuller American story. With you, we are lifting up the stories of African American artists, activists, and achievers, whose courage across every generation moved our nation closer to its founding ideals. And, with you, we have launched the Action Fund, the largest private campaign ever undertaken to preserve African American history in the places where it happened. We have received gifts totaling $6 million towards our goal of $25 million. Thank you.
Your passion and generosity are making it possible for the National Trust to uplift the largely overlooked contributions of African American places, from Nina Simone’s childhood home in rural North Carolina to Chicago’s South Side Community Art Center to Memphis’ Clayborn Temple. With the philanthropic support of our donors, we have awarded grants totaling more than $1 million to advance African American preservation throughout America, at places as diverse as New York’s free community of Weeksville, African American homesteader sites across the Great Plains, and the Civil Rights sites of Birmingham.
Excavating and elevating these places and stories allows for a thorough reckoning with the complex and difficult history of race in our country, which is essential in overcoming intolerance, injustice, and inequality. As the National Trust’s Action Fund Director Brent Leggs suggests so elegantly in a Fast Company article on the events in Charlottesville, we can only understand ourselves as a country—who we are and who we aspire to be—when we have a fuller sense of who we have been over the years, together.
We have much work ahead, but in this solemn week, we hope you will take heart from the progress we have made over the past year. Thank you for standing with us to create a stronger, more united America, one where all people see their stories and potential in the places that surround us.
With our thanks and admiration for your support,