Home Business A new initiative to protect black history begins with Coltrane

A new initiative to protect black history begins with Coltrane

by SuperiorInvest

American jazz musician John Coltrane purchased a three-story brick rowhouse in Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion neighborhood in 1952, using it as his primary residence or as a stopping point when on tour until his death in 1967.

“I remember playing the upright piano at home,” said Ravi Coltrane, 58, son of Coltrane and his second wife, Alice Coltrane, an acclaimed harpist. “My father wrote a lot of music on that piano in the 1950s. On that piano he composed 'Naima' and many of the pieces that he recorded on the album 'Blue Train.'”

The townhouse was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1999. But in recent years, the condition of the townhouse has deteriorated and is currently in need of major repairs and restoration.

On Tuesday, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced that the townhouse will be the first site to receive financial support through a new initiative called Descendants and Family Stewardship. The action fund will help coordinate and finance the transfer of the Coltrane home from its current owner to his family. The extended Coltrane family has strong ties to the townhouse: Coltrane's mother, his first cousin, his childhood friend, and eventually Juanita Grubbs, his first wife, also known as Naima, lived with him when he first bought it. time. And his mother and his cousin lived there permanently. After Coltrane's death in 1967, the house remained in the family for many years; His cousin, Mary Alexander, owned the house until 2004.

“These funds are very vital and much needed for any repairs and restoration. We certainly hope that in the next few years we will fully stabilize the home and the foundation,” said Ravi Coltrane, a Brooklyn-based saxophonist and artist. “We all agree with the mission of opening the house to the public and having it there in the community as symbolic of what John Coltrane was able to do there, which is to be a beacon for the greatest possibilities of creative achievement. “

The home transfer will be completed in partnership with Friends of the John and Alice Coltrane Home, a nonprofit organization that manages the home the couple owned in Dix Hills, New York, on Long Island, according to a news release from the action fund.

The action fund, in partnership with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has committed to spending $5.2 million to establish the stewardship initiative that aims to protect spaces that have too often been neglected and underrecognized.

“Descendants and families have been doing this work informally for centuries. The initiative is about empowering descendants and families through historic preservation in a more formal way,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the action fund.. “Our role is to provide them with the resources and technical expertise they need to protect and preserve the physical evidence of the past and share their deep stories with the American public.”

According to the action fund, only 2 percent of the 95,000 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places focus on the experiences of African Americans. The fund was founded in November 2017 to help address the disparity.

“It is exceptionally important, as we grow the US historic preservation movement and promote values ​​of equity and inclusion, that the future of this movement be sustained through the commitment and leadership of descendants and families” said Mr. Leggs. “They are critical to the future of our work to expand the American narrative and build a true national identity that reflects the diversity of America.”

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