Input Sought for Asheville’s African American Heritage Trail
You are invited to offer input to shape the trail’s themes and content.
Plans for an African American heritage walking trail connecting historic Black communities in and around downtown Asheville continue to move forward and organizers are seeking input to help shape the themes and content.
The African American Heritage Trail will present stories from historic Black communities by way of themes discovered during an earlier round of community input. Sites and stories will range from well-known landmarks visible in the community today to the unsung heroes and underrecognized achievements and contributions by the Black community in the past.
Beginning Sept. 4–5 during the Goombay festival and throughout the month, storyboards will be on display at YMI’s Community Impact Center on The Block downtown. These will offer samples of content that could be featured on the trail to help tell an inclusive story of Asheville’s history.
The public is invited to drop in during the festival or on Sept. 11 or 18, review the boards and offer feedback and ideas in a survey onsite or online. Groups can also schedule times on other dates during the month to provide input. Virtual viewing sessions will be available as well.
“We are glad to be moving forward with this much-needed project that celebrates and shares the legacy and contributions of African Americans in our community,” said River Front Development Group Executive Director Catherine Mitchell who is spearheading the effort. “We welcome the public’s continued involvement in this collaborative effort to preserve and protect Asheville’s African American history and culture.”
“The African American Heritage Trail is a step in the right direction towards inclusive storytelling,” said Aisha Adams, founder of Equity Over Everything. “We are proud to partner with River Front Development and Explore Asheville to help uplift the often overlooked and under-told stories of Blacks in Asheville.”
These input opportunities are part of a community engagement process that builds on ideas gathered at a series of presentations and listening sessions that took place in 2019 and early 2020 to introduce the project, involve local residents, and foster collaboration. Plans for design and construction, originally slated for 2020 and into 2021, were paused due to the pandemic.
The project is expected to be completed in 2023. Upon completion, the Buncombe County TDA will promote the trail on Explore Asheville’s marketing platforms to preserve, share, and amplify the stories to a broad audience.
The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority is funding the project through its Tourism Product Development Fund grant program. River Front Development Group, an African American founded nonprofit, submitted the grant application in 2018. Adams is helping to provide oversight on an equitable development process. The Buncombe County TDA will maintain the trail markers as part of its wayfinding signage program.
For more information, visit AshevilleCVB.com/AAHT.
Community Input Schedule: African American Heritage Trail
At the YMI’s Community Impact Center, 39 S. Market St., Asheville
Saturday, Sept. 4, during Goombay Festival
Sunday, Sept. 5, during Goombay Festival
Saturday, Sept. 11, during Sankofa Market AVL
Saturday, Sept. 18, during Sankofa Market AVL
Virtual Viewing Sessions via Zoom*
Monday, Sept. 13, 7 – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 18, 10 – 11 a.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 28, 6 – 7 p.m.
Visit AshevilleCVB.com/AAHT to register for a virtual session. Share your feedback at the YMI or access the survey online at https://www.ashevillecvb.com/aaht
Submit your contact information in the survey form to receive email updates on the project and invitations to future community input sessions.