North Carolina Freedom Park – the first park being created in the state to specifically honor the Black experience- has been awarded a $1.9 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant was awarded to specifically support the construction of the park and the Beacon of Freedom – a pivotal piece of the park’s design created by renowned, late architect Phil Freelon.
“We are elated to receive the $1.9 million grant to support our ongoing efforts to fund the construction of North Carolina Freedom Park and the Beacon of Freedom,” said Senator Natalie Murdock, North Carolina Freedom Park Campaign Coordinator. “We are particularly happy to celebrate this important contribution as we move forward into the construction phase of the park.”
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the largest supporter of the arts and humanities in the country, with its core programs supporting exemplary and inspiring institutions of higher education and culture. The Foundation makes grants in four core program areas including higher learning, arts and culture, public knowledge, and humanities in place.
“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity,” said Elizabeth Alexander, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President. “Through our grants, we seek to build just communities. By choosing to award North Carolina Freedom Park, we are not only carrying out our mission of supporting humanity but also focusing on the profound, historic contributions made by the Black community.”
Freelon completed the design for the park as one of his last projects before passing away in 2019. He notably served as chief architect of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture in Charlotte. Freelon insisted that the park design reflect the deep roots of African American engagement in the long history of the state and reveal their words about freedom being expressed all along the way.
“Freedom Park has come a long way, and we are honored to receive this grant from the Mellon Foundation,” adds Dr. Goldie Wells, North Carolina Freedom Park Co-Chairperson. “Through this contribution, we can work to create the monument on the grounds that will honor the past and celebrate African-American heritage by building positive reminders of freedom in public spaces.”
With last October’s groundbreaking at the corner of Lane and Wilmington streets in the state’s capital, the project is still expected to be completed by 2022. The park will be situated between the North Carolina General Assembly and the Executive Mansion.
To date, the organization has received a number of community donations in addition to contributions and funding from the Raleigh City Council, North Carolina General Assembly, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Duke Energy Foundation and the State Employees Credit Union Foundation.
Donations can be made at https://ncfmp.nationbuilder.com/donate.
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