National Park Service awards $15 million to help preserve African American civil rights history

September 30, 2021 – The Essex National Heritage Commission (Essex Heritage), a non-profit that manages and provides numerous programs preserving and enhancing Essex County’s historic, natural and cultural places, is excited to announce that they have been awarded a $50,000 grant from the African American Civil Rights grant program, through the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. This grant will be used to research and promote the African American experience in the Essex National Heritage Area.

The project will consist of three main components, beginning this fall and ending in 2023. First, Essex Heritage will hire researchers to explore selected themes surrounding African American history in Essex County. There will then be a public symposium which will bring together scholars and educators to share the findings of this research. Finally, a website will be created to compile sources and research in a format that is easily accessible to the public.

“Essex Heritage is grateful to the African American Civil Rights Grant Program for this funding to explore the complex and diverse experiences of African Americans in Essex County,” said Annie Harris, CEO. “This funding will provide us with the opportunity to expand upon current research by local scholars and offer valuable education forums for regional educators and the public.”

The National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Grant Program has awarded $15,035,000  to 53 projects in 20 states to help preserve sites and history related to the African American struggle for equality.

“This competitive grant program is just one of the many ways the National Park Service is working to preserve and interpret the lesser-known facets of our nation’s shared history,” said NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge. “From physical restoration projects to surveys, documentation, and education, this years’ grant funds will help many of our State, Tribal, local, and non-profit partners advance their preservation goals.”

For more information about NPS historic preservation programs and grants, please visit

About the National Park Service

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

About Essex Heritage and the Essex National Heritage Area

Essex Heritage is the non-profit organization that manages the Essex National Heritage Area by developing programs that enhance, preserve and encourage recreation, education, conservation and interpretation projects on Boston’s North Shore and the Lower Merrimack River Valley. The Essex National Heritage Area is comprised of the 34 cities and towns of Essex County, MA. For more information, visit or call (978) 740-0444.