This seminar is a deep dive into Black heritage sites in Philadelphia, with the purpose of developing documentation and historic context around these underrepresented and threatened community assets ahead of the Semiquincentennial of 2026. It grows out of a series of conversations between the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS) and Black heritage stewards in the city. To date, there has been no systematic investigation into Black historic assets in Philadelphia, a major oversight and challenge to preserving the city’s Black heritage. Many of these sites are in areas that are experiencing new development and gentrification. As the 2018-2023 Statewide Preservation Plan for Pennsylvania noted, “There is little diversity in the historic and archaeological resources that reflect Pennsylvania’s diverse ethnic and cultural history. In particular, African American resources in Pennsylvania are greatly underrepresented in National Register of Historic Places listings, by Pennsylvania Historical Markers, and in the CRGIS database of identified historic properties maintained by PA SHPO.1 It is critical to help list them as local and state landmarks to protect, preserve, and elevate these histories. This class forms the first part of an asset-based cultural heritage and tourism initiative by CPCRS. In partnership with our local Black heritage stewards, we will engage in archival research, document buildings, conduct interviews, map resource locations, and create public-facing content to share with city and state-level stakeholders to help them prioritize planning ahead of 2026.
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