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arizona preservation webinar network (2)

The Dunbar Pavilion and the Challenge of Preserving Black Place as Black Space in Tucson, Arizona


By preserving and restoring diverse places of meaning and robust spaces of cultural activity, the preservation and development sector can live up to being more than keeping buildings standing. Activating and sustaining cultural heritage space and expanding opportunity in Tucson's black communities will require an evaluation of systems and Tucson's ability to adapt. 

Date: Thursday, August 27, 2020


Time: 10 a.m. to  11:30 a.m. (Arizona Time)


Registration: This event is free and open to the public. Register here. Upon registration, a link to the Zoom meeting will be provided.


Welcome: Kathryn Leonard, State Historic Preservation Officer, Arizona State Historic Preservation Office


  • Moderator Brent Leggs, Executive Director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, National Trust for Historic Preservation

  • Debi Chess, Executive Director, The Dunbar Pavilion

  • Dr. Da'Mond T. Holt, President, Tucson Urban League

  • Doris Snowden, President, Tucson NAACP

Webinar Support/Chat Moderation:

  • Joanna Brace, Public Programs & Grants Coordinator, Arizona State Historic Preservation Office

Image: The Dunbar School as it appeared in the 1950s, Eddie Canto/RII


Moderator Brent Leggs is Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Envisioned as a social movement for justice, equity, and reconciliation, the Action Fund is promoting the role of cultural preservation in telling the nation’s full history, while also empowering activists, entrepreneurs, artists, and civic leaders to advocate on behalf of African American historic places. A Harvard University Loeb Fellow and author of Preserving African American Historic Places, which is considered the “seminal publication on preserving African American historic sites” by the Smithsonian Institution, Brent is a national leader in the U.S. preservation movement and the 2018 recipient of the Robert G. Stanton National Preservation Award. His passion for elevating the significance of black culture in American history is visible through his work, which elevates the remarkable stories and places that evoke centuries of black activism, achievement, and community. Over the past decade, he has developed the Northeast African American Historic Places Outreach Program, and its theme, the Business of Preservation, to build a regional movement of preservation leaders saving important landmarks in African American history. As the project manager for several National Treasure campaigns across the country, he led efforts to create the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Alabama, which President Barack Obama designated in January 2017. Other campaign successes include the perpetual protection of cultural monuments like Villa Lewaro, the estate of Madam C. J. Walker in Irvington, NY; Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia, PA; Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, NJ; A. G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham; Nina Simone’s birthplace in Tryon, NC; John and Alice Coltrane’s home in Huntington, NY; and more. Brent has taught at Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and Boston Architectural College, and he is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation.

Debi Chess is Executive Director of the  Dunbar Pavilion: An African American Center for Art and Culture, the historically segregated school located in Tucson’s Dunbar/Spring neighborhood. Debi holds a degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and has spent a career advocating for the cultivation of public and private spaces that connect and reflect the diversity of the human experience. She has served as the director of the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona, the director of Education, Community Outreach and Development at The Loft Cinema, and was appointed a Community Impact Fellow at the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Science, 2016-2018. Prior to moving to Tucson in 2010, she was the director of BooCoo Cultural Center and Café in Evanston, Illinois- a multi-cultural arts and economic development center focused on creating opportunity for formally incarcerated youth and adults to develop employment and entrepreneurial skills.

Dr. Da'Mond T. Holt was born and raised from Flint, MI. He is the Senior Pastor of the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Tucson for seven years. Dr. Holt is President of the IMA of Tucson, a ministerial alliance that connects and fellowships with African-American churches and Board President of the Tucson Urban League, a 50 year old civil rights organization. This year he was appointed by Tucson Mayor Regina Romero to serve on her Race, Equity, and Justice Advisory Council, focusing on race relations, equitable outcomes for marginalized communities, and equal justice for all. Dr. Holt is also the recipient of the 2017 Whitney Young Award. Young was a civil rights leader for the National Urban League. Professionally, Dr. Holt is a National Trauma Expert and Mental Health Specialist for Metropolitan State University WEEAC, and Bullying Prevention Expert for the Tucson Unified School District.

Doris Snowden retired from Pima Community College where she served as an advisor, counselor, Director of Minority Affairs, and Associate Dean of Student Services over 33 years. Doris is committed to serving her community. Not only has she served for four years as the president of the Tucson branch of the NAACP, but she also works of the Juvenile Justice Collaboration, African American Institute, Saver Heart, MLK, Jr. Planning Committee, and IMA Community Action Team. Doris is an active member of Rising Star Missionary Baptists Church and loves to read and travel. 

Brent Leggs

Debi Chess

Da'Mond T. Holt

Doris Snowden

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