Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Keeping a Legacy from Crumbling. (A Salute to Black History Month)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Keeping a Legacy from Crumbling. (A Salute to Black History Month)

Article excerpt


In 2001, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the former home of the late Dr. Carter G. Woodson on its annual list of the most endangered historic places in the United States--an ironic fate for a place connected to the man who ranks as perhaps the greatest advocate for the preservation of African American history.

The recognition awakened thousands of people to the plight of the Washington, D.C., residence where the father of Black History Month lived from 1915 until his death in 1950. The 1890s Victorian-style red brick townhouse, located in the historic Shaw neighborhood in northwest Washington, has sat vacant since the 1970s, decaying and nearly forgotten. The home is still empty today, and has suffered considerable interior damage, including structural decay resulting from water leaks in the building.

Since making the endangered list in 2001, a national campaign has been under way to raise funds and to enlist the National Park Service and the U.S. Congress to preserve and restore the home, now owned by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), an organization founded by Woodson. Once it is restored, the ASALH wants to relocate its national headquarters there, as well as have the home serve as a museum showcasing Woodson's life and work.

"Dr. Carter Woodson spoke out for the preservation of African American history and culture at a time when it was very unpopular to do so," says Richard Moe, president of the National Trust. "He recognized the importance of saving America's unique cultural treasures. Certainly the home where he lived and worked deserves to be rescued so future generations can be inspired by Dr. Woodson's remarkable legacy."

While a congressionally mandated study in 2001 by the Park Service recommended the home be designated a National Park site, a bill authorizing the Park Service to take over and manage the Woodson home is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives this month, according to Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman in the office of U.S. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-Washington, D.C.

The ASALH Web site's fund-raising page reports that the total cost to restore the Woodson home, develop exhibits, and acquire additional properties for exhibit space will range from $3. …

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