The Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS) advances the understanding and sustainable conservation of heritage places commemorating American civil rights histories and Black heritage. CPCRS is a part of the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.
To learn more about the foundation of our work, click on a letter of our name above.
Historic preservation is at a moment of intense introspection, critique, and change. While the traditional preservation methods of listing, legal protection, architectural conservation, and restoration still have their place, other, emergent methods of interpretation, management, storytelling, community engagement and adaptive reuse are urgently being explored. Our work applies both conventional and unconventional methods of historic preservation to meet the specific needs of the heritage site. CPCRS is committed to training the next generation of underrepresented minority practitioners, and restructure, rethink, and reform the field from the ground up.
In our work, civil rights refers to the Black experience in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries, not confined to the South nor to the critical period of 1954-1968. Our working definition of civil rights struggles and triumphs explores the long legacy of contradictory American ideals and realities.
Sites where civil rights histories are made manifest include the iconic places of struggle – Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, Memphis’ Lorraine Motel, Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church – as well as the everyday landscapes, laws, and traditions that represented and reproduced discrimination. The “sites” of civil rights heritage include a wide spectrum of places and buildings as well as the people and ideas that brought them to be.