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Livestream Lecture | Expanding the American Story

Preservation as a Path for Equitable Interpretation

Cultural heritage sites that bring forward the African American narrative have served a crucial role in redefining our collective history and, ultimately, reconstructing a national identity that reflects the country’s true diversity. Preservation professionals and grassroots leaders harness the power of place and the influence of historical figures to inspire and advocate for equity, funding, and recognition of our shared cultural legacy. This talk examines a range of Black heritage sites and projects to reinforce the notion that preservation comes in many different forms and can be used as a tool to empower Black communities. Through cultural preservation practice, creative storytelling, and new partnerships, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is scaling up the preservation movement to ensure the full American story will be shared with future generations.


This virtual lecture is presented live via Zoom. The online "waiting room" opens at 6 p.m., and the lecture will begin at 6:30  p.m. Participants can submit questions via the chat feature.

Registered users will be emailed a link to join this Zoom program. To get started, please download Zoom on your chosen device and explore the Frequently Asked Questions. This program will be recorded.


Photo of Brent LeggsBrent Leggs (he/him) is the Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the largest preservation campaign ever undertaken on behalf of African American history. Through the Action Fund, he leads a broad community of leaders and activists in honor of the clarion that preserving African American cultural sites is fundamental to understanding the American story. He is an Associate Professor and Senior Advisor to the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS), Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania.  Founded in 2020, the CPCRS is focused on the preservation of Black heritage and civil rights sites across the U.S.  Leggs is a 2011 Harvard University Loeb Fellow and a 2018 recipient of the Robert G. Stanton National Preservation Award. His effort to create the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Alabama, which President Barack Obama designated in 2017, and his work to preserve Madam C.J. Walker’s Villa Lewaro in New York, is exemplary of his successful campaigns to protect many cultural monuments throughout the U.S.


Tune in from home to escape the cold Washington winter and immerse yourself in the stories of great American places and luscious garden estates.

Thursday, February 4 | Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story Documentary & Discussion with filmmakers Royal Kennedy Rodgers and Kathy McCampbell Vance
Thursday, February 11 | The Glory, Ruin, and Rebirth of Untermyer Gardens with Stephen Byrns
Thursday, February 18 |  Filoli: From Family Home to Cultural Center with Kara Newport
Thursday, February 25 | Expanding the American Story with Brent Leggs

  • Birthplace of Nina Simone. White house with porch and woods with sunlight.
    Courtesy of Brent Leggs, photo by Nancy Pierce
  • Sepia toned photo of a large group of African American women in front of a stately mansion in 1924
    Courtesy of Brent Leggs, photo from the Walker Family Archives