Today we’re sharing this article from earlier this year, which offers an in-depth look at the work being done to preserve African-American historic sites. The article also addresses the complicated history of race and historic preservation.
“Since its founding, the N.H.P.A. has identified nearly two million locations worthy of preservation and has engaged tens of millions of Americans in the work of doing so. It has helped to generate an estimated two million jobs and more than a hundred billion dollars in private investments. But, because many biases were written into the criteria that determine how sites are selected, those benefits have gone mostly to white Americans. One of the criteria for preservation is architectural significance, meaning that modest buildings like slave cabins and tenement houses were long excluded from consideration. By the time preservationists took notice of structures like those, many lacked the physical integrity to merit protection. Destruction abetted decay, and some historically black neighborhoods were actively erased—deliberately targeted by arson in the years after Reconstruction or displaced in later decades by highway construction, gentrification, and urban renewal.
While state and federal institutions were largely neglecting these areas, communities of color began protecting them on their own.”
For our weekly Wednesday tour, we're sharing this interactive tour of Villa Lewaro in Irvington, New York. Villa Lewaro was home to Madam C.J. Walker, an American businesswoman, philanthropist, and activist. Walker made her fortune with a line of hair care products and cosmetics for black women, and was the first female self-made millionaire in America. This fascinating tour is narrated by Walker's great-great granddaughter, A'Lelia Bundles, and offers a rare behind-the-scenes view of this important property.Take the tour by clicking the button below!
Thanks to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for sharing this tour as part of their Virtual Preservation Month series. To learn more about the National Trust's initiatives, including their African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, visit their website: www.savingplaces.org
Today we want to share this helpful new resource created by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism and racial identity. The "Talking About Race" portal is free to access online, and includes digital tools, videos, scholarly articles, and over 100 multimedia resources.
Spencer Crew, the interim director of NMAAHC said, "Since opening the museum, the number one question we are asked is how to talk about race, especially with children. We recognize how difficult it is to start that conversation. But in a nation still struggling with the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and white supremacy, we must have these tough conversations if we have any hope of turning the page and healing. This new portal is a step in that direction."
You can access the portal for free by clicking the button below.
In recognition of the national situation of protest following the death of George Floyd, we would like to share this statement from Lonnie G. Bunch, III, the Smithsonian's 14th Secretary and the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture: "It Is Time for America to Confront Its Tortured Racial Past.”
This week, following the lead of other museums around the nation, instead of our usual local history programming, we will be sharing content from other historical organizations that amplify the voices and stories of African American and minority communities in history. We will be taking the time to step back and educate ourselves about the history of marginalized groups in the Saranac Lake region and think about ways that we can work to better present and document those stories.
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