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Since 2016, Michigan has received a total of $3.7 million in federal civil rights grants: $3.3 million in rehabilitation grants and $423,000 for identification, documentation and interpretation of Michigan’s civil rights sites. Of those funds, the Michigan SHPO has directly received a total of $694,500 spread across six separate grant projects. Find a summary table of all awards for Michigan projects at this link.
This funding represents a series of competitive National Park Service grants awarded to the Michigan SHPO and partners to better document and tell Civil Rights stories across the state. The more complete documentation of Michigan's history via National Register nominations and other documentation achieves several key priorities identified in Michigan's Historic Preservation Plan 2020-2025.
Historic preservation is a way of understanding history through the very places where events happened, and people stood. How can historic preservation benefit underrepresented communities, who have often been marginalized in National Register nominations and other activities?
The Michigan SHPO is committed to recognizing the history of the state’s underrepresented communities, growing the number of diverse nominations submitted to the National Register, and connecting individuals, non-profits, and local groups with preservation incentives and resources. This bulletin explores some of the opportunities available to help tell a fuller story of Michigan's history.
Civil Rights Sites
The places associated with the struggle for African American civil rights in the state of Michigan and beyond represent a particularly fragile class of resource. Many important buildings and sites have been lost as a result of urban renewal and aggressive blight removal programs and demolition related right-sizing that addresses population loss, economic hardship, and years of neglect. As the resource pool is diminished, the cultural legacy and story that the remaining places portray rise in importance.
The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office in conjunction with the City of Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board are undertaking a project to document Detroit’s 20th Century Civil Rights History and the historic sites associated with it. The project is funded through an African American Civil Rights program grant by the National Park Service (NPS). Research topics are based on four themes identified by NPS:
For more information on these themes see the NPS 2008 report Civil Rights in America: A Framework for Identifying Significant Sites.
Quinn Evans Architects of Ann Arbor and Detroit was contracted to undertake the field work for this initial project. They researched Detroit’s Civil Rights history and identified the people, places, trends, and time periods associated with it and prepared the following end products:
1. The Civil Rights Movement and the African American Experience in 20th Century Detroit Survey and Inventory Report to document existing Civil Rights-related sites and context
2. National Register of Historic Places nominations for five undesignated sites and a Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF). The MPDF will enable other sites with Detroit Civil Rights significance to be added to the National Register going forward. The five sites were formally added to the National Register in January and February of 2021, with additional sites designated since then:
3. Research and installation of three Michigan Historical Markers to interpret Civil Rights-related sites (planned for 2021-22)
4. Creation of a public bike tour of a selection of Civil Rights sites in the city. The tour is complete and you can easily explore the tour route by smartphone, tablet or computer!
For more information on the Michigan Civil Rights Project, contact:
Amy L. Arnold, Civil Rights Project Manager
State Historic Preservation Office
firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-582-1477
For information on the National Register of Historic Places visit https://www.nps.gov/nr
This project is partially funded by the African American Civil Rights and Underrepresented Communities programs of the Historic Preservation Fund, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, through the Michigan Strategic Fund. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior or the Michigan Strategic Fund, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products herein constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior or the Michigan Strategic Fund.
Michigan State Historic Preservation Office rolls out Detroit Civil Rights Bike Tour
SHPO has launched an interactive Civil Rights Bike Tour around the city of Detroit to highlight many historically significant sites that describe the civil rights movement in Michigan’s largest city. Encompassing 20 different stops in total, the tour is nearly 17 miles in length but can be easily broken into shorter segments.Explore Tour