Phil Freelon, Founder of Northstar Church of the Arts and Designer of National Museum of African American History and Culture, Dies at 66 Following ALS Diagnosis

The man who headed the design of the National Museum of African American History and Culture has died at age 66.

Phil Freelon’s death was announced by his family and posted on the website and Facebook page of the church he co-founded with his wife, jazz singer Nnenna Freelon, called Northstar Church of the Arts.

“This morning Philip Goodwin Freelon joined the ancestors,” read the July 9 post. “Renowned architect, photographer, fisherman, husband and father of three, Phil and his wife Nnenna Freelon founded Northstar Church of the Arts in 2018, to be sacred space for healing, arts and spiritual connection.

“In lieu of flowers, Phil has asked that those who want to honor his legacy become sustaining donors of Northstar Church of the Arts,” the notice continued, “so that the same creative and spiritual energies that nurtured him throughout his life, may positively impact others, especially in his adopted home of Durham, North Carolina.”

The family also revealed a memorial service is planned for the fall. Further information about the service is pending.

In March 2016, Phil Freelon was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a degenerative neurological condition. That came six months before the opening of the highly-anticipated Smithsonian Black history museum in Washington, D.C.

“I like to do projects that enhance the lives of everyday people, like campus buildings, libraries, museums and government buildings,” the architect told NBC News in 2015. “I like to create beauty in everyday lives. That’s why the Smithsonian museum linking back to my own culture is more fulfilling. From jazz to hip-hop, African-American culture is everywhere.”

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Source: Atlanta Black Star