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Committee members will advise on trail’s themes, featured content and other

aspects of the project throughout its development

(ASHEVILLE, N.C. November 11, 2021) – Plans for an African American heritage walking trail

continue to move forward, and organizers are seeking local residents to serve on an advisory

committee for the project.

Asheville’s African American Heritage Trail will connect historic Black communities in and

around downtown Asheville, presenting sites and stories ranging 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.

The trail’s advisory committee will provide insight and recommendations on the direction of the

project throughout the development process including trail themes, route, design and featured

content. Committee members will also serve as connectors, promoting awareness of the project

and advising on ways in which to activate the project within the community once it is complete.

The committee will consist of up to 12 Buncombe County residents representing varying age

demographics and lived experiences. Apply at Nov. 15—Dec. 10.

Selections will be announced by Dec. 20 with the first advisory committee meeting held in early

January 2022.

Aisha Adams of Equity Over Everything is serving as lead consultant on the process of creating

the committee and facilitating meetings, which will take place approximately quarterly

throughout 2022 at the Explore Asheville offices. Applications that represent connection to the

Black community in Buncombe County through one or more of the following criteria will be


 Current or past residents of historically Black neighborhoods and communities

 Connected to Black/African American youth, arts, and education (kindergarten through


 Involvement in local historical preservation projects

 Membership with a local Black faith community

 Have direct, lived experiences related to local Black history or have related insight

through research, projects or family

 Experience with social justice issues and community activism

 Black business leaders and/or tourism professionals

Initiated by local African American community development organization River Front

Development Group, the African American Heritage Trail is funded by the Buncombe County

Tourism Development Authority’s Tourism Product Development Fund grant program using

occupancy tax revenue collected from overnight visitors. Trail markers will be installed and

maintained in perpetuity by the Buncombe County TDA.

While the trail is funded by the tourism authority, community engagement continues to be critical

for its success and authenticity, according to Vic Isley, president and CEO of Explore Asheville,

which is producing the project and with River Front Development has facilitated a series of

presentations, listening sessions and surveys since 2019 to involve local residents and foster


“This project presents a unique opportunity to collaborate on a community-driven process to

identify important stories that reflect the broader community and share them with a larger

audience, thus helping preserve local heritage,” said Isley.

“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. “We welcome the public's continued

involvement through the advisory committee 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 Adams. “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."

The project was approved for support by the Buncombe County TDA in the Tourism Product

Development Fund 2018 grant cycle. Plans for design and construction, originally slated for

2020 and into 2021, were paused due to the pandemic. For more information, visit

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