“We must remember the most fundamental rights from our nation’s founding through to today are civil rights, which are the subject of hard-fought battles for their expansion over the last two hundred years,” said Michelle Magalong, executive director of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation. “The grants program recognizes the inclusive and diverse efforts by many to prohibit discrimination and end segregation, as we can bear witness to the contributions of civil rights leaders and events through historic preservation.”
Funded through the National Park System’s Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), the Underrepresented Communities Civil Rights Grant program would use non-taxpayer dollars to partner with states and tribes to help save important places in our communities. Established in 1977 and funded by Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenues, not tax dollars, the HPF provides matching grants to state and tribal historic preservation offices to support surveys of historic resources, training, nominations to the National Register of Historic Places and grants to local jurisdictions. These funds are spent locally on preservation projects, with selection decisions made at the state level.
“Expanding the Underrepresented Communities Civil Rights Grants program will increase the program’s impact by not only documenting, interpreting, and preserving the sites and stories related to a more inclusive story of American history, but also increasing the audience appeal for such projects,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “All Americans should be able to see themselves, their history, and their potential in both our collective story and our national landscape.”
A review by the National Historic Landmarks Committee found that less than eight percent of designated landmarks specifically represented the stories of Native Americans, African Americans, American Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, women, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented groups. There are few sites associated with these groups despite their long histories in the United States from the earliest settlement of the country to the economic development of the West to the desegregation of public schools in the 20th century and political influence in the 21st.
“Allyship is a cornerstone of Latinos in Heritage Conservation's work. The Underrepresented Communities Civil Rights grant program speaks to our nation's histories of working across lines of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality to support, recognize, and celebrate the civil rights of all,” said Sarah Zenaida Gould, co-chair of Latinos in Heritage Conservation.
The sign-on letter and list of all signees is available for download here.