National Park Service awards $9.7 million to preserve Historically Black Colleges and Universities
The National Park Service (NPS) announced, on July 8, 2022, $9.7 million in grants to assist 21 preservation projects in 9 states for historic structures on campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Since the 1990s, the NPS has awarded more than $87 million in grants to HBCUs from the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF).
The HPF uses revenue from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf and helps with a broad range of preservation projects. The projects must meet major program selection criteria, and all work must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation. The HBCU Grant Program is a competitive grant program that receives an annual allocation from the HPF, which is appropriated over $140 billion annually. Congress makes appropriations from the HPF to HBCUs to help finance work on improving the historic resources located on HBCU campuses that are listed as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places either individually or as contributing to a National Register historic district.
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation that are historically significant to their community, state, or the nation. National Historical Landmarks are buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects that have been determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be nationally significant in American history and culture.
HBCUs are included on these lists for providing 180-plus years of contributions throughout the United States in academics, economic opportunities, community development, and culture. In order to assist HBCUs in researching and developing
grant applications, the NPS has identified the historic resources associated with HBCU campuses.
Today, 85 of the accredited HBCUs are eligible to receive grant funding to support the physical preservation of sites listed as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the development of architectural plans and specifications, historic structure reports, campus preservation plans, and National Register nominations.
This national commitment to preserving the historic resources located on HBCU campuses is in recognition of the role HBCUs served in the development of American history and culture. And it also represents the need to preserve black culture, where culture is defined as a careful knowledge of the past events that created the black community as it has emerged.
HBCUs are responsible for teaching and maintaining the unique knowledge of the extraordinary and gratifying progress of the black community. This knowledge of how these people worked together to form a pattern of thinking which they had to follow and the memories they shared, that resulted in a distinct and unique culture has greatly enhanced the Nation’s role as a beacon of democracy.
The preservation of HBCUs accomplishes two important objectives: The removal of racial discrimination in American life and the preservation of black history and culture as a valuable contribution to modern civilization. Now is the time for HBCUs to take more aggressive actions to renovate their facilities and to develop their surrounding communities to meet these objectives.
Photo courtesy of AJ Shooter Photography