This week, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the reauthorization of the Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program. The bill authorizes an appropriation of $10 million in each of the next seven years for programs to preserve historic buildings on the campuses of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities.
In 1998, the Government Accountability Office identified 712 historic buildings and sites on HBCUs campuses. The GAO estimated that it would cost $755 million to restore and preserve all 712 sites. In 2003, Congress authorized an annual $10 million appropriation for five years. The program was not funded after the five-year period due to the major recession of 2008. The current legislation would revive the program for at least an additional seven years.
To date, historic buildings and sites at 59 HBCUs have received funding under the program. One of these sites – Arnett Hall on the campus of Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, – had been boarded up for nearly 40 years before the university received funds under the program to restore it.
Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina is the sponsor of the legislation. He stated that “the structures on these campuses across the country are living testaments to African American history and deserve to be stabilized and restored.”