GRANT #325:

Archaeology at Fort Negley Park in Nashville, TN

Funding The Scramble To Unearth Secret Black History Before Redevelopment Destroys The Site

Let’s face it: when it comes to preserving the artifacts of history in the United States, we have preserved mostly white history. So much of the physical evidence of Black history has already been erased by design or neglect. That’s why we said a fast “yes” to this urgent request to join in a unique funding partnership in an effort to beat the clock on some precious archaeological ground.

The area surrounding Nashville, Tennessee’s historic Fort Negley is ripe for redevelopment and the city has a plan. That means time is running out for the archaeologists and historians who are hurrying to fund the excavation of the grounds, where a community of thousands of Black people lived and worked. Some of them were promised freedom in exchange for building the Union fort during the Civil War. Others were simply forced to do it. They and their families lived and died in the shadow of the fort. It’s assumed some human remains are surely there. Perhaps hundreds of people were buried on the grounds. The search is on for the evidence, along with other physical artifacts that will be soon be lost in the new construction.

One of our philanthropic role models, Susan McPherson, teaches that partnerships with government, philanthropy, and corporations can accomplish much more than any of them can do alone.

In that spirit, we join Nashville’s Parks Department, the Metropolitan Historical Commission, and the Metro Historical Commission Foundation to fund the archaeological digs to find as much Black history as they can in the time that remains. Find out more about the crowdfunding campaign here; learn more about the Metropolitan Historical Commission on their websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

PS – The Ku Klux Klan used to meet at the grounds of the old fort after it fell into neglect. All the more reason to honor the Black people who built it.