Alexander: Federal Funding to Restore Clayborn Temple in Memphis Will Help Preserve City’s Civil Rights Heritage

Posted on January 12, 2017

Says $400,000 grant will address structural damage of the historic building and build a new monument honoring the Civil Rights Movement 

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 12, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the National Park Service’s (NPS) announcement to award the City of Memphis a $400,000 grant to restore the historic Clayborn Temple in downtown Memphis will “help preserve the city’s civil rights history for the next generation.”

“Few American cities played as important a role in the Civil Rights Movement as Memphis has. This grant to restore Clayborn Temple will help preserve this historic landmark and give it new life as a hub for the community to learn about and engage in the civil rights movement. I believe our children should grow up learning about this pivotal time in our nation’s history and reflect on the progress we have made, along with the challenges that we still face.”

Today’s National Park Service announcement is part of the agency’s African American Civil Rights grant program. Funding for NPS’ African American Civil Rights grant program was appropriated by Congress in 2016 through the Historic Preservation Fund.

The Clayborn Temple was the epicenter of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement in Memphis. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the organizing speech and led a march from Clayborn Temple to City Hall during the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers strike. The church also played a role when Rev. Ralph Abernathy led the 1969 Black Monday protest. 

The City of Memphis, in collaboration with Neighborhood Preservation Inc., will work to restore the historic Clayborn Temple in downtown Memphis. Neighborhood Preservation Inc. acquired Clayborn Temple in 2015 – the building has been sitting vacant for over 15 years and has suffered major deterioration. Today’s grant will help address the serious structural damage of the building and will also include a new “I am a Man” monument honoring the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers strike. Upon request, Sen. Alexander sent a letter of support for the City of Memphis to receive this federal funding.


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