This project is made possible by the support of  The Mellon Foundation's Humanities in Place Program, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The field of historic preservation, long dominated by institutions marked by white privilege, has historically had a blind spot for many issues of significance for Black heritage, from listings and leadership to public policies and university study opportunities. The field has begun to acknowledge and address the historical discrimination and imbalances, but more profound and lasting change is required. It is urgent to build capacity among Black-led organizations to meet the goals of culturally resonant, community-serving, and financially sustainable, Black heritage and civil rights sites.

In this period of reckoning with racial injustice, Tuskegee University and Penn are collaborating to build capacity among Black-led institutions to reimagine, redesign, and redeploy historic preservation to address the needs of the many, Black-led historical places, organizations, and communities. This collaboration centers on training the next generation of preservation professionals capable of doing the cultural and technical work needed to redress the imbalances in what heritage places get preserved and research into best practices in all areas of historic preservation work. From documentation to policy to management, this collaboration will be devoted to explicitly lifting the profile and ensuring the sustainability of Black heritage places that represent the country’s long struggles with civil rights.

Tuskegee University and Penn are ideal partners in this collaboration, given their respective strengths and histories. Tuskegee’s heritage as a leader in Black education is built on a foundation of architectural studies, practical preservation, and historical scholarship deeply informed by the institution’s role in advancing civil rights. The Department of Architecture has a distinguished history of design excellence and community service. Penn’s Weitzman School of Design is one of the country’s best-known and includes one of the country’s oldest and most renowned graduate programs to study historic preservation. Over 40 years, hundreds of PennPreservation graduates have worked and led in every aspect of the field. Two years ago, Tuskegee University and Penn entered into a teaching-fieldwork-research partnership, supported by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, resulting in the formation of the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites in 2020.

students around statue

Participating Penn Faculty and Alumni

Francesca Ammon, Associate Professor, City and Regional Planning and Historic Preservation, Associate Chair, City & Regional Planning
Andrew Fearon (MSHP'06), Lecturer
Michael C. Henry, Adjunct Professor of Architecture
David Hollenberg, Adjunct Professor
Charles Lawrence (MSHP '10), Lord Aech Sargent
Sarah Lerner (MSDO '20), Manager CPCRS
Cassie Myers (MSHP '92),  Lecturer
Randy Mason, Faculty director CPCRS
Liz Trumbull (MSHP '18), Eastern State Penitentiary  
Casey Weisdock (MSHP '16), International Masonry Institute

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