Brent Leggs, an accomplished advocate for the preservation of African-American historical sites, will speak at JHC on the afternoon of Sunday, April 26. Leggs, the executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was featured this month in a lengthy profile in the New Yorker about the struggle to preserve African-American history.
Leggs is the author of the book “Preserving African American Historic Places,” which the Smithsonian Institution lauded as “the seminal publication on preserving African American historic sites.” He is also a Harvard University Loeb Fellow and the 2018 recipient of the Robert G. Stanton National Preservation Award.
For more than a decade, Leggs has been working tirelessly to preserve important cultural landmarks like Villa Lewaro, the estate of Madam C.J. Walker in Irvington, N.Y.–which, like JHC, is one of thirteen stops on the Westchester County African American Heritage Trail.
He has also advocated on behalf of Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia; Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey; A. G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham; Nina Simone’s birthplace in Tryon, North Carolina; and John and Alice Coltrane’s home in Huntington, New York; and led efforts to create Alabama’s Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.
“One site a time,” writes the New Yorker‘s Casey Cep, “Leggs and his colleagues are changing not only what history we preserve but what we think it means to preserve it.”