Gresham Meggett School

The largely vacant W. Gresham Meggett School on James Island's Grimball Road has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. A new grant will help Charleston County further document education there and at similar schools. Robert Behre/Staff

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service spread $12.6 million across 24 states to fund 51 different projects that will document the African-American struggle for equality. 

Funding for four projects — about $643,000 — is headed to South Carolina. 

Some nationally prominent preservation projects include a baseball stadium once used by the Negro National League in Paterson, N.J., the Washington, D.C., home of civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell, and the last standing African-American officers' club at Fort Huachuca in Arizona.

"By working with local communities to preserve these historic places and stories, we will help tell a more complete narrative of the African-American experience in the pursuit of civil rights," National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith said. 

The African American Civil Rights Grants Program first received about $8 million in funding from Congress in 2016. The money came from revenues from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. 

Of the four groups that received grant funding, the Charleston County Zoning and Planning Department won a $50,000 grant for an oral histories project. 

"A Journey to Equal Education: Stories from Historic African-American Communities" will document the experiences of students on the cusp of desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s. Alumni of schools that were created in 1951 from state funding will discuss how "separate but equal" education affected them.

The county will hire a cultural resources consultant to carry out project work, which will include interviewing alumni, Charleston County spokesman Shawn Smetana said. 

Andrea Harris-Long of the county's zoning and planning department said the interviews will help teachers, students and scholars better understand the results of desegregation. 

"The county is excited to be coordinating a project that will document the experiences of African American students during desegregation, a tumultuous, important time in American history," Harris-Long said.

One of those schools, W. Gresham Meggett High School, was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Heritage Community Development Corporation, a local non-profit organization, will help the county with public outreach. The grant work will begin immediately and will conclude in April 2020, Smetana said. 

Claflin University also received a $50,000 grant for its South Carolina Trustee Hall Historic Structure Report and Preservation Plan. The Historic Charleston Foundation received a $43,084 grant for its documentation of the history of Mosquito Beach and its role in the Civil Rights Movement. 

Trinity Methodist Church in Orangeburg received the largest of the grants in the amount of $500,000 — the church will use this money for a project titled, "South Carolina Preservation and Repair of Historic Trinity United Methodist Church." 

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Reach Hannah Alani at 843-937-5428. Follow her on Twitter @HannahAlani.

Hannah Alani is a reporter at The Post and Courier covering race, immigration and rural life across the Palmetto State. Before graduating from Indiana University and moving to Charleston in 2017, her byline appeared in The New York Times.