SELMA, AL (WSFA) - The starting point for the historic Selma-to-Montgomery marches, Brown Chapel AME church, was crucial to the movement that brought about the American Voting Rights Act. Fifty year later, it's in desperate need of repairs, but new gr ant money will ensure the church is here for future generations.
Juanda Maxwell has called Brown chapel AME her church home for more than 20 years.
"This is the foundation of the community," said Juanda Maxwell.
Looking on the exterior and interior there are signs of wear and tear on the building.
"When you are talking about repairs like we are talking about its like hundreds of thousands of dollars. It would have been difficult for the congregation," said Maxwell.
Maxwell is the project manager for the Historic Brown Chapel AME preservation society. The foundation was launched nearly 10 years ago with the main mission of preserving the historic building. Recently the foundation was awarded two gr ants totaling $800,000 from the National Park Service to help with the needed renovations.
"We were delighted. We are excited," said Maxwell.
The first $500,000 will go help pay for roof and structural repairs, new wiring and new paint. The second $300,000 will help make more cosmetic changes.
"It will beautify. It will restore the kitchen, bathroom, carpeting, and the windows," said Maxwell.
Dr. Leroy Maxwell, the chairman of the foundation, says this shows the commitment the group has for maintaining the history for future generations.
"Our mission is to simply make sure we tell a story about human dignity and injustice. We want to make sure this great citadel is still here for future to come," said Dr. Leroy Maxwell.
Pastor Leodis Strong believes this gives the congregation an opportunity to better serve the community.
"It means rather than devoting funds to maintenance we can try to come up with funds for ministry," said Leodis Strong.
Maxwell says an architect has been chosen for the project, and the next step is putting out bids for a general contractor. The entire project could take two years to complete. The Historic Brown Chapel AME church is one of more than nine sites in Alabama to receive gr ant money.