The history of Asheville’s African American community goes back hundreds of years. It is a story of slavery, subjugation, segregation, and the shell-shock of various urban renewal projects. It is also a story of hard work, perseverance, transformation and celebration. Urban renewal is one of the most powerfully felt historic events that continues to resonate through Asheville’s African American Community. This quote from the NC Humanities Council’s Crossroads Publication explains a great deal about urban renewal’s impact:
As a result, urban renewal was a continuous experience for Asheville’s African American community for almost thirty years. Beginning with the Hill Street neighborhood in 1957 as the Cross-Town Expressway was built and moving on to Southside, Stumptown, Burton Street, and East End, the fabric of each of these historic African American communities was torn apart.
The story of Asheville’s African American’s community didn’t begin or end with urban renewal, and I hope to fill this page with the record of contributions and lives of Western North Carolina’s African American people. This page will feature posts about various individuals and groups who have contributed to our collective history. The timeline is a beginning effort to highlight historic events of special importance to the black communities Western North Carolina, but importantly, this history is an integral part of America’s history – Black History isn’t meant to be segregated any more than people are. Please send me dates, information, and photographs to expand this history.