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February 12, 2015

Black-History Museums Struggle but Find Ways to Survive

USA Today looked at the financial challenges facing several museums devoted to African-American history and the steps some have taken to preserve their mission to educate new generations about slavery and the civil rights movement.

With few visitors, the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center in South Carolina focuses on research, collecting artifacts and documents related to the contributions of African-Americans to the town. Cincinnati's Underground Railroad Freedom Center nearly closed due to a multimillion-dollar deficit but survived by combining with other institutions in the city and expanding its offerings to include modern-day slavery.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum, located at a former Greensboro, N.C., lunch counter where desegregation protests made national news in 1960, had to borrow $1.5-million from the city in 2013 and was the subject of a municipal takeover bid last year. Earl Jones, the museum's co-founder, said that since taking the loan the institution has raised $600,000 and drew 71,000 visitors last year.