On Tuesday (April 6), the city of Los Angeles and the Getty Conservation Institute announced their plan to preserve Black history in the city. The African American Historic Places Project will be a three-year program to locate and formally preserve landmarks significant to Black history and culture.
A report by the Los Angeles Times said that the project will work out of the city’s Office of Historic Resources within the Department of City Planning. The initiative’s goal is to have a more accurate reflection of LA’s history and heritage. Right now, only about three percent of landmarks are linked to Black history.
“There’s much work to be done to rectify that disparity and ensure that the heritage of African Americans in Los Angeles is fully woven into our historic designation, and recognition of historic places in Los Angeles,” principal city planner Ken Bernstein told the outlet.
The project is a part of a nearly two decades-long partnership between Getty and the city and has previously garnered financial support in the millions. One of the products of the partnership is a digital map and list of heritage sites in LA, HistoricPlacesLA. The Office of Historic Resource developed a blueprint for preservation sites in Black communities in 2018. The Office is continuing these efforts, which was renewed in part following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor last year, The LA Times reported.
Susan Macdonald, head of Buildings and Sites Department at the Getty Conservation Institute told the publication the protests sparked from their deaths made the Institute thinking about “how might what we do and why we do it and how we do it actually be somehow contributing to ongoing biases in relation to planning and historic preservation.”
“How might some of the processes and practices that we undertake be really barriers to social justice and how might it be contributing to social injustice,” Macdonald added.
The project marks ongoing efforts to expand landmarks to honor Black history, and commemorate the contributions Black people have made in the country.
“If [historical landmarks] don’t accurately reflect that history and past, then you’re getting an impoverished or a misreading of history so I think what identifying cultural heritage places does, it actually tells the true story,” Macdonald said. “It can be used as a vehicle to rectify erasures of history.”
Photo Credit: Getty Images