National Trust Awards Grants to 40 Sites to Help Preserve Black History

Posted in on site by Editor on July 23, 2021

The Montpelier Descendants Committee was one of 40 sites awarded grants in 2021 from the National Trust. From the MDC’s website: “On June 14, 2019, the Montpelier Descendants Community convened to establish an organization to honor the sacrifices, resilience, and brilliance of our ancestors who contributed immeasurably to the founding of this nation. On June 16, 2021, The MDC achieved structural parity with The Montpelier Foundation (TMF), establishing itself as an equal co-steward of the historic site. This milestone is the culmination of two decades of contributions by descendants to the Foundation’s research and program development, and a year and a half of intense negotiation in a polarized environment following the murder of George Floyd.”

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Press release from the National Trust:

On July 15, 2021, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced more than $3 million in grants to 40 sites and organizations through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Over the past four years, the National Trust has funded 105 historic places connected to Black history and invested more than $7.3 million to help preserve landscapes and buildings imbued with Black life, humanity, and cultural heritage. This year’s funds were awarded to key places and organizations that help the Action Fund protect and restore significant historic sites. Grants are given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation.

The latest grantees include:

Fort Monroe has commissioned a memorial honoring the humanity of the first captive Africans who were enslaved by the Portuguese and then taken by English privateers to the British Colonies at Point Comfort in 1619. The grant will assist Fort Monroe and its partners to design an interpretive plan that contextualizes the people and events of 1619 from a global perspective.

The Montpelier Descendants Committee will create a master project plan for their Arc of Enslaved Communities project, a descendant-led framework for the research, interpretation, physical discovery, and promotion of sites and projects centered on the contributions of the enslaved in Virginia during the Founding era.

Learn more about the full list of grantees here»

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An example of the sort of work undertaken by the Arc of Enslaved Communities project comes from the Montpelier Descendants Committee’s website (and, if I might interject, the nails provide an interesting example to use in talking about style with students CH) . . .

Finding and Dating the Sites of Labor at James Madison’s Montpelier

Plantations were much more than the main house and surrounding slave quarters and outbuildings. They consisted of fields, stables, barns, tobacco houses, granaries, and work areas that today, for the most part, are long gone and grown up in woods. Montpelier, like many 18th-century plantations, has witnessed its fields and work areas return to woods beginning in the 1840s. The archaeology department at Montpelier is seeking to locate these sites of labor that bear witness to the millions of hours of unpaid labor of those Americans enslaved by James Madison. . . .

Today there is little visible trace of the farm complex in Montpelier’s 500 acre East Woods. Most of the buildings were log structure set at grade with no foundation and all that remains are nails below the forest floor. The fields are completely grown over and only subtle linear mounds of plow furrows and field lines still exist in the woods today. To locate these nail clusters we use gridded metal detector surveys and the linear mounds are located through LiDAR surveys. These two data sources (metal detector surveys and LiDAR) are the physical legacy of the capital that was stolen from the Ancestors. . . .


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