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Groundbreaking Partnership to Document African American Historic Sites in Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Monday, Oct 12, 2020

With a common goal of telling a fuller American story, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay; the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; and the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership will collaborate to map and identify sites and landscapes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed region significant to African American history and culture. The project will map African American cultural sites in an effort to support their conservation and to enable the three states and their localities to fully consider them in their land use and development plans. This multi-state partnership will undertake unique pilot projects in each of the three states to identify sites and landscapes of relevance to African American history and culture. The project will also be guided by an advisory committee of professionals dedicated to preserving African American history. Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer of the National Trust, says, “Mapping African American historic places within the Chesapeake watershed is a critical first step in making sure that these places are protected and that their stories are told.” As home to some of America’s first colonies, the Chesapeake Bay watershed region is already known to have a significant meaning to African American culture. Many major tobacco plantations were located there, as were many stops on the Underground Railroad. It was the place where Harriet Tubman and both Frederick Douglass and his first wife were enslaved. It includes many battlegrounds of the Civil War, as well as places of notable activism in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Generations of Black Americans have made their living from the waters of the Bay and have also used special places along the Bay and throughout the region for recreation. Historic sites and landscapes important to people of color are widely underrepresented in documentation and conservation priorities. This work will take one small step towards addressing that deficit. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. SavingPlaces.org | @savingplaces