Grant Puts Museum over 50 Percent Mark for Restoration of the African Meeting House
BOSTON, Mass., Feb. 11, 2008 – In celebration of Black History Month, the Wal-Mart Foundation today announced that it is donating $250,000 to the Museum of African American History in Boston. These funds will be used for the restoration of the African Meeting House, a National Historic Landmark and the oldest extant black church building built by free African Americans in the United States.
“The African Meeting House was the nexus of black abolitionist communities in the Northeast. It was a place for education, economic development and social justice. It stands as a singular structure that housed the institutional prowess of an empowering Boston black community,” said Beverly Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History.
Wal-Mart Foundation President Margaret McKenna joined Morgan-Welch and State Senator Dianne Wilkerson at the Museum today to celebrate the company’s donation as well as to recognize federal and state government funding that have been critical to the effort.
The Wal-Mart Foundation donation helps the Museum surpass the 50 percent mark of the $8 million of funding needed to complete the African Meeting House restoration effort.
“The Wal-Mart Foundation is pleased to join this public-private partnership to restore an important historic site that educates and inspires everyone who visits,” said McKenna. “This gift can be leveraged by the Museum to gather the rest of the funds it needs to bring this very important project to completion.”
Built in 1806 and acquired by the Museum in 1972, the African Meeting House offers a unique window on a powerful history that begins with the actual physical structures where people worked together to secure the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. As the Center of both religious and civic activity, the African Meeting House played host to giants in the Abolitionist Movement including William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Lewis Hayden, Sojourner Truth and many more. In celebration of the 200th anniversary of this majestic building, the Museum of African American History launched a major restoration that is critical to its preservation. The African Meeting House will be restored to its appearance in 1855.
The newly restored 200-seat African Meeting House will be home to programs that feature stories of African Americans from 1638 through the Civil War and will give names, faces and voices to dynamic historic figures. In addition, in the tradition of the African Meeting Houses of the 19th century, it will serve as an important gathering place and venue for the discussion of contemporary issues.
Wal-Mart has a long tradition of supporting diverse communities throughout the year, and this year is proud to celebrate Black History Month by honoring the living history of African Americans. The company is hosting several Black History Month activities throughout the month of February in Wal-Mart Stores and Sam’s Clubs. For more information, visit www.walmart.com/blackhistory.
About the Museum
The Museum of African American History is New England’s largest African American History museum dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans. Through exhibits and programs, the Museum highlights the powerful story of community leaders, activists, and ordinary citizens who helped to shape this nation’s history from the Colonial Period through the 19th century. The Museum has campuses in Boston and Nantucket that feature the oldest African Meeting Houses in the nation, sites that received the highest designation in historic preservation - National Historic Landmark. Adjacent to the African Meeting House (1806) on Boston’s Beacon Hill is the Abiel Smith School (1835), the first building in the nation constructed for the sole purpose of housing a black public school, today featuring the Museum’s exhibits and Museum Store. On Nantucket’s York Street sits the Seneca Boston-Florence Higginbotham House (1770’s) next to the African Meeting House (1820’s). The Museum’s collections include historic sites, fine art, photographs, documents, manuscripts, journals, books, and material culture as well as significant archeology of the free black community on Beacon Hill and Nantucket. The Museum provides Black Heritage Trail® tours with the National Park Service in Boston and the volunteers on Nantucket. To learn more visit, www.afroammuseum.org.
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $270 million to local communities in the United States. To learn more, visit www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmartstores.com, or www.walmartfoundation.org.