FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Protect and Preserve Our Nation’s African American History Ahead of Juneteenth National Independence Day
FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Protect and Preserve Our Nation’s African American History Ahead of Juneteenth National Independence Day

Since day one, President Biden and Vice President Harris have advanced racial justice and asserted that Black history is American history. We build a better future — together as a Nation — not by trying to erase America’s past, but by knowing our full history as a country. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to recognizing the full arc of our Nation’s history, including African American history, to help us understand how the past connects us to the present and shapes our shared future.

The Biden-Harris Administration is proud of its record of recognition of the history and contributions of Black people to our country. The President was proud to sign into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, the first new Federal holiday since the creation of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday 41 years ago in 1983, designate the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, and posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Medgar Evers. Despite growing forces that are attacking racial progress and attempting to rewrite history, the President and Vice President are committed to remind us that our country is only strengthened by the breadth, complexity, and significance of the Nation’s African American history.

Today, the White House Domestic Policy Council is convening Administration officials, award-winning artists, civil rights leaders, and nationally-renowned scholars for a live-streamed event on honoring and protecting the country’s African American history. This event will demonstrate actions the Federal Government is taking to protect and preserve African American history; and supports ways the public can commemorate Juneteenth, as well as uplift the experiences, histories, and impacts of Black Americans.

Later today, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), in partnership with the White House, is producing the second annual celebration of Juneteenth National Independence Day — the official end of chattel slavery in the United States. This large-scale concert on the White House South Lawn will also celebrate Black Music Month and feature African American musical legends to honor and contextualize American history through this important Federal holiday. This event spotlights the richness of the arts and humanities to demonstrate African American history as an indelible part our shared National story.

Vice President Harris has declared Juneteenth— June 19, 2024 — as one of three National Days of Action on Voting. With a focus on voter engagement, these National Days of Action on Voting aim to ensure all Americans have the information they need to vote, promote voter participation for students, protect election workers, and fight voter suppression laws. Other National Days of Action on Voting are the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 2024 and National Voter Registration Day on September 17, 2024.

Protecting National Truths and Public Access to African American History and Culture

Aligned with President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting the Arts, the Humanities, and Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in coordination with national and local philanthropic and civil society organizations, are committed to protecting and preserving African American history and culture.

  • To commemorate Juneteenth, the National Archives Museum announced it will display the original Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3 from June 18 – June 20, 2024.
  • The National Park Service (NPS) announced Free Entrance Days in the National Parks, where all visitor entrance fees will be waived at Park Service sites for Juneteenth on June 19, 2024.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities published a digital repository of resources that commemorate Juneteenth by deepening public understanding of African American history from the Reconstruction Era to the present.
  • NEH will establish a nationwide program focused on celebrating Juneteenth and promoting African American history and culture in the leadup to the 160th Anniversary of Juneteenth in 2025.  These new actions will include: new funding opportunities in all 50 states and Territories to support reading and discussion programs, traveling museum exhibits, and interactive workshops about the legacy of slavery and Emancipation, as well as the origins and significance of Juneteenth; lectures on pivotal moments in African American history and culture; film and documentaries on the ongoing struggle for freedom; new free and classroom-ready educational Juneteenth content for K-12 educators; and other efforts to preserve African American history and culture at the community and state level. These programs will culminate in a grand celebration of Juneteenth in 2025, bringing together local communities across the nation to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States and reflect on the progress and challenges faced by African Americans throughout history.
  • In response to the troubling spike in book bans that threaten Americans’ rights, the U.S. Department of Education named a coordinator for responding to book bans in order to support the public and school communities in understanding the civil rights impact that book restrictions can have, and the circumstances under which such restrictions can violate federal civil rights laws. The focus of many of the current bans occurring across America disproportionately strip books about the experiences of historically marginalized groups of people, including, books about African American history. By conducting trainings throughout the country, the book ban coordinator is working to ensure that parents, students, teachers, school administrators, authors, and elected officials know and understand that where book bans target specific communities, they may violate students’ civil rights. Book banning erodes our democracy, removes vital resources for student learning, and can contribute to the bias, isolation, and social invisibility that Black, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized communities face.
  • On June 12, 2024 the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans will host Power Up – Chicago, convening experts to discuss the critical role of well-rounded education in empowering Black students and supporting academic excellence. Experts will explore the impact of a holistic approach to education, including the importance of cultural relevance and learning opportunities that include honest African American history and access to diverse literature. In January 2024, the White House Initiative hosted Power Up – South Carolina that featured the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and a community training on how book bans may violate Federal civil rights laws and the process to resolve potential violations.
  • In July, the National Endowment for the Arts will announce new recipients of the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship, the Nation’s highest honor in jazz. From its origins in the Black American experience to what is now a global treasure, jazz is a uniquely American art form and source of inspiration and creativity. This cohort of rare fellowships include an award of $25,000; and the honorees will be celebrated at a public concert where NEA commits to centering and uplifting the African American roots of jazz during the program.
  • As part of the IMLS 250: All Stories. All People. All Places initiative, the Institute of Museum and Library Services will be highlighting a variety of funded projects focused on preserving and protecting African American history from museums, libraries, and archives across the country. For example, the award-winning Visions of America series highlights lesser-known moments in our country’s history and culture, such as African American culture in Kansas City at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum.

Investing in Local Institutions to Preserve African American History and Culture

The Biden-Harris Administration is also announcing efforts to strengthen America’s vibrant tapestry of community-based organizations, library systems, museums and cultural institutions, as well as building capacity across the local arts and humanities workforces that care for our Nation’s treasures.

  • Established 21 years ago in 2003, the Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC), administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), is one of the longest-standing Federal programs in support of preserving and protecting African American history and culture. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, AAHC is funding awards to 31 organizations for projects to begin July 1, 2024— including a continuing partnership with the Association of African American Museums to build the capacity for this national network of institutions. AAHC grant program applications for FY 2025 will open in mid-August 2024 with an expected funding level of $6 million, a historic high for the program and represent an increase of over $4 million compared to funding levels over the last five fiscal years.
  • In Spring 2024, the NEA— in partnership with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the U.S. Department of Education, Library of Congress, NEH and IMLS— began a new mixed-methods research study to map the arts and cultural assets of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), analyzing regional arts and culture workforce needs, and detailing how HBCUs are partnering with local, state and regional arts organizations to preserve the heritage of these institutions.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with a consortium of U.S. Regional Arts Organizations (RAOs), will announce a cohort of nearly one hundred ArtsHERE grantees in September 2024. Launched in November 2023 by NEA in response to the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government priorities on advancing racial equity, ArtsHERE is a new $10 million pilot program that awards $65,000 to $130,000 grants to support local projects by organizations demonstrating a commitment to reducing barriers and driving equitable participation in the arts for underserved communities that historically lack access.
  • Since January 2021, NEH has invested more than $50 million in humanities projects that promote African American history and culture, support HBCUs, and counter hate-motivated violence. In furtherance of its Equity Action Plan, NEH has launched three new offices to deepen its engagement with HBCUs, African American communities, and other underserved institutions and communities, including its inaugural Office of Outreach. 

Safeguarding Sites and Preserving Communities that Hold America’s Treasured Histories

The Biden-Harris Administration is ensuring that new and ongoing Federal investments help protect the unique local traditions, sacred stories, and generational legacies that breathe life and pride into America’s cities and towns, historic districts and Freedmen’s settlements, landmarks, monuments, and National parks.

  • Under the Biden-Harris Administration, the Department of Interior (DOI) through NPS, has invested $190 million in infrastructure and preservation projects for sites that relate to the African American experience across the nation. Additionally, through the Historic Preservation Fund, DOI has invested over $140 million in grants that support the preservation of African American history since 2021.
  • NPS announced the availability of new $1.25 million in Underrepresented Communities grants by the Historic Preservation Fund to diversify the nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. Applications for this grant cycle are due on August 29, 2024. In recent years, the Park Service has worked to increase the number of African American Heritage Sites and National Register designations— such as the Black Wall Street Greenwood Business District, the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. African American-historic sites make up less than 3% of overall sites in the National Register.
  • In February 2023, the Department of Transportation (DOT) launched the “Past, Present, and Future of Reconnecting Communities” storymap to document communities, including historic Black neighborhoods and business districts that were razed or displaced as a result of decades of documented racial discrimination in Federal transportation policy. As part of DOT’s ongoing equity efforts, the agency will announce new infrastructure grants and roll out new digital resources to uplift the stories of local communities, including many Black communities, who are benefiting from the billions of dollars in nationwide projects made possible under President Biden’s landmark Investing in America agenda.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities will create a special encouragement in its grant programs for projects that preserve and promote access to historical collections documenting the history of slavery and its legacies, amplify African American voices in the stewardship of history and culture, and safeguard African American cultural resources from the threat of loss, such as during public health crises and the negative effects of climate change.
  • Throughout the summer and fall of 2024, the President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities will partner with nonprofit organizations and Federal art and humanities agencies to launch programs and initiatives that address sustainability and capacity challenges of historically underserved creative and cultural communities— including local institutions, such as African American-owned theaters—who are at high-risk of generational loss, displacement, erasure, and climate-related natural disaster. Additional programs will facilitate cross-sector dialogue on the development of culturally sensitive artificial intelligence, explore improved community arts integration in Black communities who have been historically disrupted by infrastructure projects, and promote coordinated policy on ethical returns of African and African American cultural heritage in the museum sector. Alongside federal partners, PCAH will also pilot locally-driven placemaking projects with libraries located in historically Black cities and Territories.
  • The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation announced a new Request for Proposals (RFP) and new round of funding in support of Inclusive Storytelling that focuses on amplifying, documenting, and sharing lesser-known stories of America throughout the park system. The RFP and grant application for this round of funding closes on June 12, 2024. Last year, the program awarded more than $4 million in grants to support 57 projects nationwide.

Advancing Racial Equity and Making History Through the Biden-Harris Administration

The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to further advancing racial justice so that the promise of America is real for every American, including Black Americans.

  • Signed two Executive Orders directing the Federal Government to advance an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda to redress systemic barriers, including increasing access to Federal contracting dollars, capital, and lending programs for small disadvantaged businesses; advancing civil rights and environmental justice; closing health disparities; building economic prosperity in rural communities; and combating urban community disinvestment and housing discrimination.
  • Signed an Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting to leverage the resources of the Federal Government to provide nonpartisan information about the election process and increase access to voter registration. Agencies across the Federal Government are taking action to respond to the President’s call for an all-of-government effort to enhance the ability of all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy.
  • Announced new actions to protect the sacred right to vote, including increased funding for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, which has more than doubled the number of voting rights enforcement staff. The Justice Department also created the Election Threats Task Force to address violence against election workers and ensure that all election workers are able to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation.

The Biden-Harris Administration is delivering history-making results, including for Black Americans:

  • Under President Biden, the Black unemployment rate and gap between Black and white unemployment hit record lows.
  • Black wealth is up 60% relative to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Black-owned businesses are being created at the fastest rate in 30 years.
  • Selected the first Black person and first woman to serve as Vice President of the United States.
  • Nominated the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court and more Black women to federal circuit courts than every President combined.
  • Appointed the most diverse Presidential administration in American history.

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Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/06/10/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-announces-new-actions-to-protect-and-preserve-our-nations-african-american-history-ahead-of-juneteenth-national-independence-day/