What is the African American Heritage Trail?
Initiated by River Front Development Group, a local African American community development organization, the project is conceived as a walkable trail in and around downtown Asheville that will honor and preserve the rich heritage of the local Black community. 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.
How is the project being funded?
The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority is funding the project with occupancy tax revenue collected from visitors staying in Buncombe County lodging as part of its Tourism Product Development Fund grant program. The trail markers will be installed and maintained in perpetuity by the Buncombe County TDA.
How will it be decided what sites and stories become part of the trail?
Input has been gathered from community engagement efforts including online surveys, focus group discussions, and listening session workshops. Additionally, an advisory committee will advise on the trail’s themes, route, design and featured content for the project throughout the development process.
Will the trail also be available online?
Yes, there will be an accompanying website that will include a map of the trail as well as additional information such as photos, videos, and oral history recordings.
Will the trail be expanded outside of Asheville?
The current phase of the project is focused on creating a walkable trail in and around downtown Asheville. Additional sites may be included in the digital version of the trail.
What is the proposed route?
Some sites and stories are well known; others have received less attention through the years. This trail aims to represent a broad range of history including renowned landmarks and leaders, such as the YMI Cultural Center on The Block and James Vester Miller, to the unsung heroes and underrecognized achievements and contributions by the Black community in Asheville.
When will the project be completed?
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.