WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (SC-06) and Congressman Joe Cunningham (SC-01) praised the passage of the Lands Package the House passed today which will be sent to the President’s desk for his signature. This package includes funding for two bills that Majority Whip Clyburn authored and passed the House in previous Congresses – the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Historic Preservation Reauthorization and the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park Act.
Majority Whip Clyburn has championed preservation of historic sites and structures on HBCU campuses his entire career in Congress. In 1998, at the request of the Congressional Black Caucus, 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 Park Service.
The legislation would reauthorize the program at $10 million annually for seven years. 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.
The Reconstruction Era National Historical Park Act re-designates and expands the Reconstruction Era National Monument in Beaufort County, South Carolina, which was established in January 2017 by President Obama through the Antiquities Act. This bill includes authority for boundary expansions within the Beaufort National Historic Landmark District, on St. Helena Island, and at the Camp Saxton Site in Port Royal. This bill also creates the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network, a program to preserve and promote Reconstruction Era sites around the country, which will be managed by the National Park Service.
Majority Whip James E. Clyburn
“Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have worked to preserve and protect our nation’s most treasured historical sites and institutions. These federal designations and investments will bring new life to historic buildings and parks across the country, some of which were built by student labor and designed by unsung Black architects. Even today the history of the Reconstruction Era and the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities is not well understood. This package not only preserves and protects buildings on HBCU campuses and Reconstruction Era sites, but it also documents and promotes the history of Reconstruction which is critical to avoiding past mistakes and guiding our pursuit of a more perfect union.”
Congressman Joe Cunningham
“This historic Lands Package will provide much-needed preservation funds for HBCU buildings which have played a pivotal role in educating generations of African American leaders across South Carolina. It also shines a spotlight on the Lowcountry’s important Reconstruction History, where the slow process of granting rights and equality to formerly-enslaved African Americans began. Unfortunately, the significance of this time period in American history is often misunderstood and overlooked. Real reconciliation and healing are not possible without education and I am honored to stand with Majority Whip Clyburn and to preserve, protect, and promote Reconstruction history.”