By Kara Thompson,
AFRO MDDC Intern
History was made recently when the Maryland General Assembly passed two bills that will delegate or increase funding to the Commission on African American History and Culture and the African American Heritage Preservation Grant Fund.
“As the Chair of this historic commission, I am truly honored to be at the helm of this major accomplishment. This funding increase marks the beginning of a new day in African-American heritage preservation in Maryland and we intend to protect and preserve our history for generations to come,” said Rev. Tamara E. Wilson, D.Min, chair of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC) and Banneker-Douglass Museum.
HB1048 established the Commission on African American History and Culture as an independent agency, which requires the Governor to appropriate $1.6 million to the commission each fiscal year as a part of the budget. The bill was sponsored by Delegate Shaneka Henson from Anne Arundel county, and will go into effect on July 1.
The commission is dedicated to document, preserve, and promote Maryland’s African-American heritage, while also providing support to other institutions or groups with similar goals in mind. Through this work, the MCAAHC can educate both Maryland residents and visitors to Maryland about the significance of African-American history in the state.
The other bill passed, HB1088, increased the appropriation for the African American Heritage Preservation Grant Fund from $1 to $5 million in the operating budget each year. It also will go into effect on July 1, and was sponsored by Delegate Benjamin Brooks of Baltimore county, Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes of Dorchester and Wicomico counties, and Speaker Adrienne Jones of Baltimore county.
The African American Heritage Preservation Program provides grants to preserve buildings and sites that are an integral part of the African-American experience here in Maryland. HB1088 increased the funding for this program by $4 million, allowing for more sites of historical or cultural significance to be preserved and protected.
“African-American heritage sites are throughout Maryland and our state’s museum now have greater resources to grow, expand, and reach new heights. We aim to make Black history and culture a greater central focus in Maryland; so that more residents and tourists can understand our state’s history, community life, art forms, civil rights, and social justice causes,” said Chanel Compton, Executive Director of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and Banneker-Douglass Museum.
Both of these bills are now awaiting Governor Larry Hogan’s signature.
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