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Morsels of Sustenance

In lean times, two Annapolis black history memorials win much-needed state support

In these times of withered wallets and skeletal budgets, African-American history has scored in state money. Two Annapolis landmarks — the Alex Haley-Kunta Kinte Memorial at City Dock and the Maynard-Burgess House on Duke of Gloucester Street — are slated for money toward renovations and repairs. Their $36,000 and $100,000 respectively are fractions of fractions of the state’s $425 million budget proposal for Anne Arundel County. But in a time when most state money is scheduled for schools and public works, every other dollar is worth a story.
    Thirty-six thousand state dollars will shine new lights on the Alex Haley-Kunta Kinte Memorial, City Dock’s iconic bronze quartet. Haley and company suffer from their position at the center of city life, according to Judy Cabral, vice president of the foundation that owns and supports the memorial.
    “They’re designed to be people friendly,” Cabral says, “and with that comes a lot of personal contact.”
    The four statues and their companion homeland compass rose and story of remembrance wall are the city’s third-ranking tourist attraction, Cabral says.
     This $36,000 will retrofit the compass rose and story wall with LED bulbs, which will save a bit of money in the long run by reducing the electricity bill.
    Annapolis’s second winner, The Maynard-Burgess House is listed to receive $100,000. The city-owned historic site was the lifelong residence of liberated slave John Maynard. The Maynard-Burgess House has a long list of renovations, from structure up, before visitors can experience its insight into early Annapolis and American life.
    But Lisa Craig, chief of Historic Preservation in Annapolis, is optimistic with big plans. “The grant money as well as private funding will work on restoring the house to be able to be used by the community,” she says. The Maynard-Burgess House will not be a museum but rather a living memorial that “focuses on people and the lives they lived.”
    State money comes to both the Maynard-Burgess House and the Alex Haley Memorial through grants from the African American Heritage Preservation Program. The two Annapolis sites were among 16 winners — out of 27 applicants — sharing the first million dollars awarded by the annual grant program.
    Despite tight money, the state legislature created the million-dollar annual grant program last year to “provide support for the acquisition, construction, and capital improvement to buildings, sites, or communities of historical and cultural importance to the African American experience in Maryland.”

This year’s $1 million was only the beginning. Find guidelines and upcoming workshops for next year’s African American Heritage Preservation Program grants at http://mht.maryland.gov/grants_africanamerican.html.