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Fund helps preserve, renovate important sites focused on Black history

Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument
Posted at 4:49 PM, Feb 22, 2023

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 this piece of American history.

This is just one example of the national historical sites being renovated and restored for future generations through the National Park Foundation’s African American Experience Fund.

“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, the chief program officer of the National Park Foundation. The NPF is the official charity of the National Park Service and its sites, which includes 423 sites nationwide

The fund puts money in 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,” said Aangeenbrug.

The fund launched in 2001. The 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,” she 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. This project tells the history of Medgar and Myrlie Evers and shows their role in social justice and civil rights activism. This 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, 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.