Facing fierce backlash from conservative critics, the National Park Service has canceled plans to fund a nearly $100,000 project honoring the legacy of the Black Panther Party.
The announcement comes just a month after the agency greenlit $98,000 in federal funds for a project by a University of California, Berkeley professor aimed at commemorating,” a history that brought meaning to lives far beyond the San Francisco Bay Area,” according to the East Bay Times. However, outcry by conservatives who condemned the history of what they’ve dubbed “a violent extremist group” prompted the agency to pull the plug.
“At present, I can confirm that the project in question will not receive funding from the National Park Service,” agency spokesman Craig Dalby said, adding that a “cooperative agreement” for the “Black Panther Party Research, Interpretation [and] Memory Project” was never finalized.
“After an additional review of the project, the NPS decided not to move forward with funding the project,” he said.
The park service first announced its intent to award Ula Taylor, incoming chair of African- American Studies at UC Berkeley, with the $98,000 grant in September, the San Francisco Gate reported. According to its proposal, the project sought to chronicle “how the [BPP] impacted the visual arts, music, dance and styles of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s and underscore the vastness of its impact on American culture.”
Several groups objected to the move, however, most notably, the Fraternal Order of Police. On Oct. 19, the organization penned a letter to President Donald Trump criticizing the NPS’ decision to approve a grant they felt would honor the “Black extremist” group.
“At a time when many in our nation feel strongly that memorials to the darker aspects of our history be removed from public lands, why would the NPS seek to commemorate the activities of an extremist separatist group that advocated for the use of violence against our country — a country they perceived as their enemy?” the letter read.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) called the agency’s swift about-face “outrageous” and urged the park service to give a full explanation for why funding for the project was rescinded.
“[That was] such an important part of the civil rights era,” Lee tweeted Friday.
Ula Taylor did not respond to requests for comment. There’s no word on how the project plans to move forward.