The Connection

Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium, Inc.

Preserving “The Cradle of the Movement”

“The work of the Consortium expands the popular narrative of the civil rights movement by preserving and promoting these sites and the stories of the people within a broader community context.  We aspire to equip a new generation with insight, information, and inspiration to transform the places where they live.”    – Priscilla Hancock Cooper, Director
Old Sardis Missionary Baptist Church in Birmingham

The Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium, Inc. (AAACRHSC or Consortium)  is a collaboration between 20 historic places of worship, lodging and civic engagement that played significant roles in the African American struggle for freedom.  The AAACRHSC includes three cities that inspired major civil rights campaigns and changed federal law: the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Ended segregation in public transportation), the Birmingham Children’s Campaign (Civil Rights Act of 1964), and the Selma Voting Rights March (Voting Rights Act of 1965).

AAACRHSC was launched in 2017 when the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) successfully nominated the sites to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) Watch for 2018.  Every two years, the WMF Watch recognizes internationally significant cultural sites that present compelling conservation opportunities or face daunting threats.  AAACRHSC has evolved into a network of passionate and committed individuals and institutions with a shared vision: preserving historic buildings, protecting and promoting their stories, and engaging the next generation of advocates and activists.

To fulfill this mission, AAACRHSC focuses on the expressed needs of the sites, connecting them with resources to build their capacity and long-term sustainability through a collaborative decision-making process.

Safe House Black History Museum in Greensboro

AAACRHSC has developed partnerships with national organizations to create significant projects.  The Educational Foundation of America and J.M. Kaplan Fund have been major funders and supporters. AACRHSC collaborated with the World Monuments Fund (WMF) to develop the Voices of Alabama web platform featuring oral history interviews.  National Park Service photographer Jarob Ortiz used photos of the sites for the first large format digital photography project sponsored by the NPS Historic American Buildings Survey.  

Since 2018, AAACRHSC sites have received more than $5 million from the National Park Service civil rights grants program.  The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture commissioned AAACRHSC to develop a “Toolkit for Cultural Collaboration” to be distributed on its website and via workshops later this year.

Guided by the findings of its 2019 Strategic Plan report, AAACRHSC will continue to support this important work with initiatives focused on organizational development, site capacity and access to resources, outreach and education, tourism and interpretation, creative placemaking and expanding documentation.

Dr. Richard Harris House in Montgomery

For a complete list of sites and more information, visit:  AAACRHSC.org  

For Voices of Alabama oral history interviews, visit:  voicesofalabama.org

A message from our past president

As some of you know, the Trust is experiencing a season of renewed energy as an organization, and this blog is an exciting piece of that effort. Through it we look forward to rich conversations around a wide range of topics.

We can start by attempting to get our heads around the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The job losses and health calamity cannot be overstated; and there is no question that our economy, society, and culture are shifting permanently.

Everyone wants to know just one thing. We want to know what kind of economy, society, and culture will create the healthiest environment for the most people. No one knows the answers yet. To find them we -- the government, preservationists, businesses, health community, architects and planners, residents, consumers, activists, journalists and writers, educators, and everyone else -- will be forced to reexamine our goals, tools, methods, and processes. We will be looking for opportunity, and everyone will have to make choices.

As preservationists we need to choose smart. We need to choose opportunities that refuse to rip away more of our treasured historic fabric but save more of it. We need to look for reasons and models to finally rescue our small towns, rural landscapes, Native spaces, and big city places from further deterioration, all while celebrating the irreplaceable imprint of the many racial, ethnic, religious, and gendered groups who make up our state.

I invite you to use this blog -- and the Alabama Trust organization -- to look for new opportunities to invest in our postdemic economy and culture; and decide, at last, to save the places that matter to both.

Pamela Sterne King
Immediate Past President

Welcome to The Connection

Welcome to The Connection, a blog of the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. We’re connecting people and preservation to save historic places, and we believe this virtual space is central to that mission. By sharing stories, lending support, and highlighting resources around our great state and beyond, we’ll discover new tools and techniques for saving the places that matter most to us all.

We want to be a central place Alabamians can turn to for resources concerning their historic properties, from research tools to hands-on preservation tips and tricks, including no-nonsense information on tax credits and incentives for preservation, and advice about when to hire a professional. We want to highlight the grassroots groups and organizations across our state that are already doing the amazing work of preserving and interpreting our collective past, and we want to leave space to showcase our project partners and hands-on preservation workshops.

May is National Preservation Month, and as such, we’re excited to bring you content from some of the leading professionals in our field. Look out for more content coming soon, and Happy Preservation Month!

Katie Randall
Vice President