Category: Landmarks

Homes of Harriet Tubman and Langston Hughes Among 22 Sites Getting Funding to Help Preserve African-American History

Harriet Tubman Home (l); Langston Hughes House (r); [photos via savingplaces.org)
The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently announced more than $1.6 million in grants to 22 sites and organizations through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

These monies will help maintain poet and scholar Langston Hughes‘ house in Harlem, New York, The Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, NY, the home of Negro League Baseball star Satchel Paige in Kansas City, Mo., the Emmett Till Memorial Commission in Summer, Miss., ‘The Forum’ in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, the African Meeting House in Boston, MA, the oldest existing black church in the U.S., and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, among others.

In his announcement at 2019’s Essence Festival in New Orleans, Action Fund executive director Brent Leggs championed the importance of this work when he remarked, “The recipients of this funding shine a light on once lived stories and Black culture, some familiar and some yet untold, that weave together the complex story of American history in the United States.”

This year’s funds, provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, were awarded to key places and organizations that help the Action Fund achieve its mission of protecting, restoring, and interpreting African American historic sites and uncovering hidden narratives of African Americans and their contribution to the American story. Grants are given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation.

Learn more about the full list of grantees by clicking here.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Announces Crowdfunding Campaign to Help Restore Nina Simone’s Childhood Home (WATCH)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, announced a crowdfunding campaign to support the restoration and preservation of Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, NC.

This campaign, supported by artists, actors, and musicians including John Legend, will raise funds integral to the exterior restoration of the home where the celebrated singer, pianist and Civil Rights icon’s life began. The home, which has fallen into disrepair requiring urgent revitalization, was designated a National Treasure in June of 2018.

“Spaces devoted to the history and legacy of people of color, especially women of color, are far too few in America today,” said John Legend. “Preserving places like the Nina Simone childhood home will help keep her powerful story alive. This campaign pays tribute to Nina Simone’s unapologetic pursuit of musical, personal, and political freedom and I am proud to be a part of it.”

The National Trust’s crowdfunding campaign will run on IndieGoGo, beginning today, giving the public an opportunity to make donations to this effort, and to purchase newly designed Nina Simone-inspired merchandise including t-shirts, artist prints, pins, and postcards with artwork by Dare Coulter — a North Carolina-based artist working to create positive imagery of people of color. The campaign will also include the option to acquire additional merch donated by musicians including Talib Kweli and actors Mahershala Ali and Issa Rae.

“Our culture is embodied in old places and the history and stories they keep,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This modest home in Tryon, North Carolina embodies the story of a young black girl who transcended the constraints placed on her in the Jim Crow south, to become the voice of the Civil Rights Movement. Nina Simone’s childhood home provides an important lens for examining the contours of her life, and through its preservation, we hope to celebrate and cement her legacy in our American narrative.”

In 1933, Eunice Waymon, aka Nina Simone, was born in Tryon, North Carolina. It was in this home that Simone first taught herself the piano at the age of three, performed in public for the first time at the neighborhood church where her mother preached, and where she experienced the constraints placed on African Americans in the rural Jim Crow South. This home would become the inspiration of some of her most influential music and political activism, including songs such as “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women.”

In recent years, the three-room, 660-square foot clapboard pier and beam house had fallen in disrepair. The vacant property was put on the market in 2016. Alarmed by the condition of the home and the risk of losing this connection to Nina Simone entirely, four African American visual artists—conceptual artist and painter Adam Pendleton, the sculptor and painter Rashid Johnson, the collagist and filmmaker Ellen Gallagher, and the abstract painter Julie Mehretu—purchased the property in 2017.

“When three fellow artists and I purchased Nina Simone’s childhood home in 2017, we did so with the desire that the site be transformed into a piece of living history, “ said artist Adam Pendleton. “This space, so integral to Nina Simone’s music and activism, can serve to carry forward her legacy and inspire future artists and musicians.”

Nina Simone’s career spanned multiple genres, four decades, several continents, and earned 15 Grammy nominations. Her songs have been professionally sampled and covered more than 500 times.

This week, the National Trust will be bringing the Nina Simone Crowdfunding campaign to the 25th annual Essence Festival, where attendees can claim exclusive perks and learn more about this National Treasure.

Hip Hop Legend Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G. to be Honored With Street Naming in Brooklyn on June 10

(Image via Strategic Heights Media)

The Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation will host the official street naming ceremony of Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace Way to celebrate Brooklyn’s Notorious B.I.G., one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time.

Voletta Wallace, Faith Evans, B.I.G.’s children T’Yanna Wallace and Christopher Wallace, representatives of the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation, members of the city council, and more will be present for the ceremony. Music will be provided by Hot 97’s DJ Enuff.

WHEN:                 Monday, June 10, 2019, 12-2pm EST

WHERE:               Corner of St. James Place and Fulton Street
                               Brooklyn, NY 11238

Historic Shelley House in St. Louis Gets Official Recognition on New U.S. Civil Rights Trail

When J.D. Shelley and Ethel Shelley attempted to buy this house at 4600 Labadie Avenue in St. Louis in 1948, they were told it could not be sold to blacks. Their fight went to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in a ruling that struck down racial covenants in housing. (Photo: FrancisNancy via commons.wikipedia.org)

The historic “Shelley House” at 4600 Labadie Avenue in St. Louis was dedicated yesterday by the National Park Service as Missouri’s first official site on the new U.S. Civil Rights Trail. U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay and Aurelia Skipwith, deputy assistant Secretary of Interior, headlined the event.

The U.S. Civil Rights Trail, created by legislation written by Clay, aims to preserve significant places that had critical roles in the civil rights movement in the United States.

The Shelley House was at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court decision (Shelley v. Kraemer) which struck down restrictive racial covenants in housing in 1948. The nationally impactful decision pitted J.D. and Ethel Shelley, a black couple who wanted to buy the house, against Louis and Fern Kraemer, white neighbors who tried to keep them out.

Other notables in attendance were St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt, and members of the Shelley family.

Source: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/joe-holleman/historic-civil-rights-house-in-st-louis-gets-official-u/article_2c7013a7-11db-511e-8955-80d61b1e85cf.html

Intersection in Harlem Renamed in Honor of Acting Legends and Activists Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (photo via Facebook)

According to New York Amsterdam News, on Saturday the northeast corner of 123rd Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue in Harlem was renamed in honor of famed acting and civil rights couple Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (Purlie Victorious, Countdown At Kusini, Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever).

The Dwyer Cultural Center hosted the ceremonial unveiling of ‘Ruby Dee Place’ and ‘Ossie Davis Way’. Dee and Davis’ children, Nora Day Hasna Muhammad and Guy Davis, attended the event, as did the Rev. Al Sharpton, former New York City mayor David Dinkins, Assemblywoman Inez Dickens and State Sen. Brian Benjamin.

The Dwyer opened its gallery to the public to view an exhibit dedicated to Dee and Davis with numerous storyboards displayed related to the work of the couple and Cliff Frazier. The public also participated in a community mosaic mural.

To learn more about Dee and Davis’ lives, work, philanthropy and scholarships, go to: https://ossieandruby.com or follow @EverythingOssieandRuby

Or check out their story in their own words:

To see video of the street re-naming, watch below:

Intersection of Crenshaw and Slauson in South L.A. to Be Named Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom Square in Honor of Rapper

April 9th, 2019, Los Angeles, CA – According to Ashley K. Thomas, Communications Director for South Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Harris-Dawson just announced that the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and West Slauson Avenue would be named in honor of one of its own, Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom. The rapper, entrepreneur and champion for the South LA historic “Destination Crenshaw” project was recently murdered at his flagship Marathon Clothing Store located adjacent to the intersection.

A petition to get the intersection named in his honor circulated online shortly after his passing with over 500,000 signatures to date. The outpouring of love for the rapper has come from all over the globe with fans from China, Australia, Canada, Brazil and more signing the petition.

The city councilman and Asghedom developed a relationship through their work on the Destination Crenshaw project. The naming of the project, which will memorialize the culture and history of Black Los Angeles on Crenshaw Blvd., came from Nipsey.

He passionately articulated that “Crenshaw should be a destination,” further implying that all of the individuals riding the Metro LAX Line should stop at Crenshaw and spend their dollars in the community.

“Ermias Asghedom known as “Nipsey Hussle” was an icon and West Coast hero,” said Councilmember Harris-Dawson. “Nipsey’s genuine nature allowed him to be a light to everyone he interacted with from family, friends, fans, and his larger community.  As a father, brother, and son, Nipsey was a rock helping to build an empire that will continue through generations. Nipsey will always be remembered for delivering a pure, authentic Los Angeles sound, his numerous philanthropic efforts, his innovative, community-focused business mindset, and his humble heart. ”

In addition to the square dedication, the Los Angeles City Council will adjourn the Council meeting in honor of Nipsey Hussle, officially adding his contributions to the city of Los Angeles and the world into the public record.

The Grammy-nominated artist invested heavily in South Los Angeles, including his groundbreaking Marathon Clothing “Smart Store,” his ownership and redevelopment plans for the property on Slauson Avenue, investment in the beloved World on Wheels, co-founding of Vector90 (the first co-working space in South Los Angeles) and its STEM program for youth, and partner on Destination Crenshaw.

Dr. Saint Elmo Brady, 1st African American to Earn Ph.D. in Chemistry, Honored With a National Historic Chemical Landmark

Dr. Saint Elmo Brady (Credit: University of Illinois Archives)

According to jbhe.com, Dr. Saint Elmo Brady, the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry, has been honored by the American Chemical Society with a National Historic Chemical Landmark dedicated to him on the University of Illinois campus, where Brady earned his Ph.D. in 1916.

Additionally, plaques in his memory will be mounted on the campuses of four HBCUs where he served on the faculty: Fisk University, Tuskegee University, Howard University, and Tougaloo College.

Dr. Brady was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1884. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Fisk in 1908. After graduating from Fisk, he taught for four years at Tuskegee before leaving to earn his Ph.D. at U. of Illinois. He returned to teach at Tuskegee once again, followed by positions at Tougaloo, Howard, and Fisk. He served as chair of the chemistry departments at both Howard and Fisk. Dr. Brady passed away on December 25, 1966.

“This landmark designation recognizes the outstanding accomplishments and leadership impact that Dr. Brady has had on the chemical profession,” says ACS Immediate Past President Peter K. Dorhout, who presented the plaque at the designation ceremony on February 5.

“I am proud to be an alumnus of the university that was part of his legacy — dreaming, designing and executing the creation of four outstanding and impactful chemistry programs that have each worked to ensure access to higher education and the chemical professions for so many young African-American men and women over the last century.”

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/02/saint-elmo-brady-honored-with-a-national-historical-chemical-landmark/

Bronze Statues of American Heroes Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass to Be Erected in Maryland State House

Harriet Tubman (National Park Service); Frederick Douglass (George K. Warren)

aryland voted 3-0 to approved a contract to put bronze statues of American heroes and freedom fighters Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass in the Maryland State House. The statues will stand in the Old House of Delegates Chamber.

Maryland-born abolitionists Tubman and Douglass both escaped enslavement in their home state and worked in the North to secure freedom for others via speeches, protests and journalism. Tubman, known by many as “Black Moses,” went back down South personally several times to rescue and guide enslaved people to freedom via the Underground Railroad.

House delegate R. Julian Ivey asked to delay the contract, citing a lack of minority business participation in the deal. “If the state of Maryland is going to honor Ms. Tubman and Mr. Douglass, we need to do it the right way,” Ivey wrote in a letter to the board.

The contract with The Christmas Company, of Sterling, Virginia, calls for completing the work within 390 days.

Source: https://wjla.com/news/local/maryland-board-contract-harriet-tubman-frederick-douglass-statues

Muhammad Ali to Have Louisville, KY Airport Renamed in His Honor

Muhammad Ali (photo from Stanley Weston Archive via essence.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, boxing legend, Vietnam War protester and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali will soon have his hometown airport renamed after him.

“Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Muhammad became one of the most well-known people to ever walk the Earth and has left a legacy of humanitarianism and athleticism that has inspired billions of people.”

Lonnie Ali, Ali’s widow, said in a statement she is happy that Louisville is changing its airport’s name “to reflect Muhammad’s impact on the city and his love for his hometown.”

“Muhammad was a global citizen,” she stated, “but he never forgot the city that gave him his start. It is a fitting testament to his legacy.”

To read more: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2019/01/16/louisville-airport-sdf-getting-new-name/2594657002/

Jimi Hendrix Honored in Hometown of Seattle with Post Office Renamed in his Honor

Jimi Hendrix Stamp (photo via usps.gov)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Seattle Times, musical artist, counterculture figure and guitar legend Jimi Hendrix will have a post office renamed for him in his Washington state hometown.

In late December a bill was signed into law re-christening the Renton Highlands Post Office the James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix Post Office. The bill, which was passed unanimously, was sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, and supported by both of Washington’s U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

Jimi Hendrix statue in Seattle (photo via pinterest.com)

“I am honored to join in paying tribute to rock and roll icon and Seattle native Jimi Hendrix with the renaming of the Renton Highlands Post Office as the James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix Post Office Building,” Congressperson Smith said in a statement. “This designation will further celebrate Hendrix’s deep connection to the Puget Sound region and help ensure that his creative legacy will be remembered by our community and inspire future generations.”

Hendrix grew up in Seattle, spending much of his formative years in the Central District. There are several other Hendrix tributes in Seattle – from a statue on Broadway Street to his namesake park adjacent to the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) – undeniably putting “Seattle’s most recognizable son,” as the museum’s director LaNesha DeBardelaben described him, into the city’s history.

The Renton post office is less than a mile from the Jimi Hendrix Memorial in the Greenwood Memorial Park cemetery, where the guitar hero is buried.

Though he lived a short life, Hendrix’ impact on music and American culture is still felt today. Hendrix is best known for his hits and virtuoso guitar playing on “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze,” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” along with “All Along the Watchtower,” “Foxy Lady,” and “Voodoo Child.”

He achieved widespread fame in the U.S. after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and in 1968 his third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, reached number one in the U.S. The world’s highest-paid performer at the time, Hendrix headlined the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Check out his still-mesmerizing, revolutionary version of “Star-Spangled Banner” from 50 years ago: