From the Statehouse Senate Panel Approves Funds to Extend Black Historic Sites Preservation Program

By Shawn Massie

The state Senate Budget and Taxation committee recently unanimously approved a bill to extend the African American Heritage Preservation program, with an endorsement from Gov. Larry Hogan.

The March 4 approval came after the committee heard testimony from its chairman, Theodore Mack, and Joni Floyd, executive director of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. “This program has been successful in creating local preservationists and creating multi-racial alliances and most importantly, in furthering the integration of the African American story,” Floyd said.

The bill would create the AAHP Grant Fund. The bill directs the governor to put $1 million in the fund each year. The grants are to preserve and maintain historical sites in Maryland.

Submission period for the grant applications will begin July 15 and end on a date to be decided by the Maryland Historical Trust and the commission.

The grants are awarded on a competitive basis. Under the proposed bill, the MHT and the commission are to consider grant applications for projects that meet standards based on historic value.

The MHT and the commission would award money to certain projects. At the budget and taxation committee hearing, the commission announced that the Roosevelt School in Wicomico County, built in 1820 that was used as a teaching site for ex-slaves in rural Maryland, and the Odd Fellows Lodge, a 1920s social, health and life insurance agency site for the local African American community in Sandy Springs were awarded grants.

Up to 20 percent of the $1 million in the grant fund would be set aside for emergency grant project applications that were not submitted during the regular application cycle.

The MHT and the commission must report to the governor on Dec. 31, to review the financial status and program activities for the prior fiscal year. Oct. 1 was the previous date for the reports before approval of the revised bill.

The bill proposed that the MHT director could alter agreements to preserve and maintain properties awarded grant

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