Civil Rights Heritage Center receives grant to expand African American Landmark Tour
By Lee Streby
IU South Bend’s Civil Rights Heritage Center has been awarded a highly competitive federal grant of approximately $50,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. CRHC’s proposal was selected to receive full funding following rigorous peer review in the agency’s Museum Grants for African American History and Culture program. Grant funding will support the transformation of the center’s existing African American Landmark Tour using 20 historically significant landmarks to help reveal to the public the fuller texture of the neglected African American historical narrative in the northern Midwest.
Director Dr. Darryl Heller says, “Ten years ago, one of the Civil Rights Heritage Center’s greatest accomplishments was saving and widely sharing the history of the building we operate out of and now own — a formerly segregated South Bend swimming pool. Now, with financial support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, we can elevate more places rich with the history of the African American experience in our city and share the stories of those places with today’s generation.”
Under Dr. Heller’s leadership, the project team which will involve CRHC staff, faculty and students from IUSB’s Pub Hub and the Department of Computer Science and Informatics, the project will integrate archival materials from CRHC collections into the tour and add technology to facilitate public discourse. A stakeholder-driven planning process will lead to production of all-new tour assets: redesigned signage, print materials, and a new dedicated website and app. The team will also add a participatory “Join The Conversation” feature, allowing visitors to respond to relevant topics embedded within the landmarks’ history via social media. The project’s goal is to rebuild a more deeply engaging and accessible tour that turns the city itself into a living history museum, promoting lifelong learning for all who participate.