There was a lot of excitement when the Board of Commissioners passed an $840 million budget on Thursday, June 15, so some people might not have caught what happened right after that.
In one of a series of separate votes on items in the budget, the Board of Commissioners approved giving $200,000 to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.
The money is going to help the museum at 134 S. Elm St pay for the 2022 purchase of the former First Citizens Bank building next door as well as the purchase of the rest of that entire downtown block.
It’s part of the museum’s attempts to expand and become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and join company with the Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty. Those sites are recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Currently there are only two dozen sites in the US that have been designated World Heritage sites.
Museum officials say the site of the historic 1960 Sit-in in downtown Greensboro can become the 25th one.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, a co-founder of the museum who serves on its board, could not legally take part in the vote, so Alston did not conduct that part of the meeting and he did not vote in it.
The purchase of the property and building next door cost just over $10 million and the museum is making renovations that will cost millions more.
In 2022, the Board of Commissioners gave $1 million to the museum and “committed” to giving the museum another million over a five-year period. The June 15 vote was notable, however, because past boards cannot commit future boards and in the past the Board of Commissioners have gone back on commitments by previous boards plenty of times.
Alston said this week, “This is to pay down on the mortgage for the building we purchased last year. Since the commissioners approved a five-year commitment last year. We just had to reauthorize it again this year for this budget.”