During a 2021 interview I did with author and poet Clint Smith, we discussed the origin of the title of his book How the Word is Passed. In that conversation he said, “For many people, history is not about empirical evidence. It is not about primary source documents. It is about a story that they have been told. And it is a story that they tell, it is an heirloom that is passed down across generations, across family, across community.”
As preservationists we recognize just how imperative it is to understand how these histories are shared and passed down over the years—while also working to preserve the places where these memories are held. And, as we reckon with the inequities inherent in the systems of preservation, many organizations and preservationists are also working hard to document and map these spaces of the Black experience in the United States
Last year I began a series of short resource lists related to historically excluded communities. These lists were meant to provide preservationists (at all levels) a glimpse into some of the resources and work being done to preserve these important histories, and provide examples for others that may just be getting started—or just want to learn more.
The lists in this series include:
As with these other compilations, this set focused on Black history is not meant to be comprehensive. What I have pulled together below is a collection of mapping projects, context statements, organizations, podcasts, and stories to share the different ways that Black history is being preserved and shared. Also at the bottom of the article is a brief list of some of the more recent articles, stories, and webinars from Preservation Leadership Forum and on Saving Places, including the work of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
This list has been compiled in collaboration with Lawana Holland-Moore, program officer for the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
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