April 22, 2024 5:23 pm
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New Funding Will Protect Historic African American Cemeteries in Pennsylvania

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Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has awarded $50,000 to Preservation Pennsylvania to protect African American cemeteries and burial grounds in the Commonwealth. Preservation Pennsylvania is one of 33 sites and organizations to receive money from the action fund, which provides national grants to protect sites representing important African American history.

Preservation Pennsylvania, which is based in Harrisburg, will use the money to develop a statewide program offering mini-grants, technical assistance, and toolkits for cemetery stewards. Brent Leggs, the fund’s executive director, has said the program will ensure people have “the resources to identify, document and steward these hallowed grounds into the future.” 

Terry Buckalew has been researching African American burial sites in Philadelphia for over a decade. He hopes that the new program will offer legal assistance to communities fighting to preserve cemeteries and burial sites. “Each graveyard, each cemetery has its own unique set of problems,” Buckalew told Axios. “Is it city owned? Is it privately owned? A lot of time, [sic] nobody knows who owns it.” The specifics of the Preservation Pennsylvania program are still under development, but it will certainly help to protect these historic sites.