The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced more than $1.6 million in grants to over 20 sites and organizations today at the 25th annual Essence Festival in New Orleans.

The grants were rewarded through the Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (Action Fund), a $25 million multi-year national initiative aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of African Americans by protecting and restoring African American historic sites and uncovering hidden stories of African Americans connected to historic sites across the nation, according the National Trust’s press release.

Now in its second year, the Action Fund has granted a total of $2.7 million since its launch in November of 2017.

“The recipients of this funding shine a light on once lived stories and Black culture, some familiar and some yet untold, that weave together the complex story of American history in the United States,” Brent Leggs, executive director of Action Fund said during his announcement from Center Stage at the Essence Festival.

This year’s awardees include the home of Negro League Baseball phenom Satchel Paige; the Emmett Till Memorial Commission; ‘The Forum’ in Chicago’s Bronzeville; the African Meeting House and Abiel Smith School (Museum of African American History); Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church in Barrington, Massachusetts, the sacred place that NAACP co-founder and Civil Rights trailblazer W.E.B. Du Bois called the “crucible” in which his vision was born; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina; and more.

Grants were made possible this year by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation.

“Beyond saving important African American heritage sites, the Action Fund is helping Americans understand more deeply who we are as a nation,” Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander, remarked. “We applaud the ongoing work of the Action Fund in calling greater attention to the diversity of American history and lifting up narratives that have been too long neglected or forgotten.”

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