Church where Emmett Till's open casket drew world's attention makes list of endangered historic places
Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago has severe structural issues, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The South Side church where 14-year-old Emmett Till's battered body was displayed in an open casket, lighting fire to the Civil Rights Movement, was designated one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places on Thursday, an annual list that brings preservation support.
"Mamie Till Mobley's courage — and Roberts Temple's willingness to open its doors to anyone who wanted to bear witness to the ravages of racial hatred — changed our nation forever.
The National Trust believes that we must work together to ensure that this place, so important to our country's history, is preserved to tell its powerful story for future generations," said the Trust's Chief Preservation Officer Katherine Malone-France.
Artistine Lang was president of a neighborhood association on the Peninsula. She put that on the back burner more than a decade ago, she said, and started focusing on caring for Pleasant Shade cemetery with her husband Rev. Darnell Lang.
They did fundraisers and organized volunteer cleanups of park, but it was a daunting task - to clean up and care for 20 acres of overgrown, marshy territory. Over the years, volunteers have come and gone, but the park is still in need of upkeep.
"We are trying, and hopefully things will change," Rev. Lang said. "But as it stands right now, it looks kind of bleak, I must admit."
Virginia has a program that funds maintenance for historic Black cemeteries, allotting $5 per grave. But as a private cemetery, Pleasant Shade doesn't qualify, even though it was the main cemetery for Black people across the Peninsula for decades.
Long-lost church in Williamsburg was once under a parking lot.
Archaeologists, blessed by community prayers and a reading from scripture, began to excavate graves this week at the long-lost site of the original First Baptist Church in Colonial Williamsburg, one of the oldest Black churches in the country.
Forty-one grave shafts have now been discovered at the site of the church, which was torn down in 1955 and covered by a parking lot because it didn't fit the town's Colonial motif.
On July 19, 2022, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded $3 million in grants to 33 sites and organizations through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.The grants will fuel the protection and preservation of historic sites representing African American history, across four categories: building capital, increasing organizational capacity, project planning and development, and programming and education. These often-overlooked places hold aspects of history that must be protected—and used to draw inspiration and wisdom for the benefit of all Americans.