Aug. 13, 2023
Ebony JJ Curry
The City of Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board (HDAB) has been selected by the National Park Service (NPS) as one of only eight recipients to receive the $75,000 History of Equal Rights (HER) Grant, which is financed through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). This initiative underscores the commitment to preserving essential landmarks related to the nation’s ongoing journey for equal rights.
The grant emphasizes the preservation of the historic headquarters of the Detroit Association of Colored Women’s Club (DACWC), now recognized as the Detroit Association of Women’s Club (DAWC). Positioned at the intersection of East Ferry Avenue and Brush Street in Detroit’s Cultural Center neighborhood, this esteemed building was originally erected in 1913 as a residence for William Lennane. However, the narrative took a turn in 1941 when DACWC, under Rosa Slade-Gragg’s presidency, took ownership. This club, born in 1921, originated from the amalgamation of eight distinct clubs of Black women determined to address and rectify welfare and societal concerns within the Black community.
This grant will be instrumental in developing a historic structures report for the DAWC building, a critical step that will guide subsequent conservation and preservation endeavors. Additionally, the board will seek to nominate the structure to the National Register of Historic Places. With this distinction, the DAWC building, along with the City of Detroit, can access additional funds for the building’s restoration from several sources, including philanthropic contributions and opportunities via the National Park Service, Michigan’s Certified Local Government program, and other preservation platforms.
It’s noteworthy that the DAWC’s grant is among five recent grants the HDAB received. These grants resonate with the board’s dedication to illuminating and acknowledging Detroit’s underrepresented communities. Their other ventures involve an intensive survey of Eight Mile/Wyoming and crafting historical contexts for Detroit’s Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Women’s narratives.
Preserving equal rights landmarks, particularly for Black communities in Detroit, is pivotal not just for honoring the past, but for educating and inspiring future generations. Detroit, a hub of industrialization and innovation, played a significant role in the civil rights movement, offering lessons of resilience, unity, and the relentless pursuit of equality. These landmarks stand as tangible reminders of the challenges faced, the sacrifices made, and the victories achieved by Black Detroiters in their fight against systemic racism and injustice. By maintaining and venerating these sites, we ensure that the stories, struggles, and triumphs of Black civil rights activists in Detroit continue to resonate, offering context, understanding, and motivation for ongoing efforts towards a more equitable society.
Since its inauguration in 1977, the HPF has devoted over $2 billion to historical preservation grants. To gain deeper insights into the History of Equal Rights grant program, individuals are encouraged to visit go.nps.gov/her.