Friday, February 2, 2007
What makes a building an historic landmark? What if the “history” contains painful memories, such as those of America’s history of racial segregation? The conflicting emotions in the African American community over the preservation of places associated with black history –- segregated schoolhouses, sharecropper cabins, burial grounds for enslaved people, etc. –- were the subject of a fascinating article this week in the Christian Science Monitor.
A growing number of African Americans are working to preserve such sites, especially when they serve to educate about the past. The National Organization of Minority Architects held this summer in Memphis a conference on the preservation of historical sites associated with African American history. The federal government, states, and private organizations can encourage conservation efforts by using plaques, tours, and other programs to keep alive the role that places and buildings can play in educating the public about the lessons of our past.