U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn has reintroduced his legislation to reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program, an initiative he has championed his entire career in Congress.
In 1998, the Government Accountability Office conducted a survey of preservation needs at HBCUs that found 712 structures on 103 HBCU campuses in need of historic preservation.
The projected cost to preserve and restore those buildings was $755 million.
To date, more than 60 buildings on HBCU campuses in 20 states have been renovated through the HBCU Historic Preservation program managed by the National Parks Service.
Clyburn’s bill seeks to reauthorize the program at $10 million annually for seven years.
“We have made significant progress towards the restoration and preservation of historic buildings and sites on the campuses of HBCUs, but there is still much more that needs to be done,” Clyburn said.
“I am proud of the continued bi-partisan support of this effort. Senators Kamala Harris and Lindsey Graham reintroduced their companion bill today in the Senate, and I will continue to work with them to restore and preserve these critical pieces of American history,” he said.
Many buildings at HBCUs in South Carolina have been restored by this program, including Chappelle Auditorium and Arnett Hall at Allen University, Ministers and Tingley Halls at Claflin University, and Massachusetts Hall at Voorhees College.
Last year, the National Park Service awarded $8.6 million in HBCU historic preservation grants. Three South Carolina HBCUs each received $500,000 awards for the renovation of Wilkinson Hall at South Carolina State University, Booker T. Washington Hall at Voorhees College and Morgan Hall at Benedict College.
The NPS grants in 2018 were the first awards since 2009 for HBCU historic preservation projects.
“These federal investments have transformational impacts on the communities that surround our HBCU campuses, and bring new life to historic buildings, many of which were built more than a century ago by student labor and designed by unsung Black architects,” Clyburn said. “By continuing these efforts, we are extending a tremendous legacy.”