The Clayborn Temple has become one of 39 historic rehabilitation projects across the United States to receive federal funding — a $400,000 grant to preserve the site where the Memphis Sanitation Workers strike was organized.
The National Park Service awarded the grant to the City of Memphis' Division of Housing and Community Development through a national African American Civil Rights Grant Program, Congressman Steve Cohen announced Thursday.
"Like the National Civil Rights Museum, Clayborn Temple is a phoenix rising from the ashes and part of the Memphis civil rights legacy and trail, which will educate visitors for years to come," Cohen said. "Clayborn Temple focuses to again become a spiritual and cultural hub for the city, as it is the gateway between Downtown, the Central Business District, Beale Street, the FedEx Forum and South City.”
Mayor Jim Strickland expressed gratitude that The National Park Service approved the city's grant, adding that Clayborn Temple is revered in Memphis.
"It's important that we preserve it so that future generations can learn of its significance not only to Memphis,
but to the entire Civil Rights Movement," Strickland said.
The grant will improve the building's serious structural damage and will also include a new “I am a Man” monument honoring the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers strike. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who sent a letter of support for the City of Memphis to receive this federal funding, also heralded the preservation.
“Few American cities played as important a role in the Civil Rights Movement as Memphis has," Alexander said. "I believe our children should grow up learning about this pivotal time in our nation’s history and reflect on the progress we have made, along with the challenges that we still face.”