Asheville, NC Has A Dedicated A Walking Trail To Its Affluent Black History And Community

Asheville, NC Has A Dedicated A Walking Trail To Its Affluent Black History And Community | Photo: Getty Images
Asheville, NC Has A Dedicated A Walking Trail To Its Affluent Black History And Community | Photo: Getty Images

Asheville, a mountain city in North Carolina, has created a one-mile historic trail to honor what Black Americans faced and created in the area.

Bloomberg reported that the Black Cultural Heritage Trail keeps the rich Black history alive in the three main neighborhoods that were once home to people of color decades ago. The idea was proposed by Black community members who wanted to “celebrate Black culture.” The wish came true five months ago when it opened in December 2023.

 

River Front Development Group, an Asheville-based nonprofit focused on community development, led the charge to ensure the trail was brought to fruition per the trail’s website. The investment is a small component of Asheville’s $2 million government-funded initiative to pay homage to the legacy of influential Black men and women who were recognized and unsung heroes because they made significant contributions to the town.

Along the pathway that crosses through Downtown, Southside, and the River Area are 20 metal information panels with a paragraph or two full of informative facts about the region’s urban development plans in the 1950s and ’60s. The projects heavily played a role in the demise of what at one point in time were flourishing Black communities.

“The National Housing Act of 1934 literally destroyed thousands of homes and businesses right where we’re standing,” Joseph Fox, an Asheville community supporter, said, according to Bloomberg.

The known racially driven practice, that remains today, allows mortgage lenders the right to discriminate and deny creditworthy applicants housing loans dependent upon the neighborhood the home in question was located, according to the Federal Reserve.

Despite some of the sad realities of the past, the trail isn’t a concept with a mission to remind residents and tourists of the pain, but more so to provide an authentic lens into Asheville said Victoria Isley, CEO of Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau, who has raised $1 million to help market the trail with Black media outlets.

In addition, Isley shared that the outdoor site helps bring attention to Black-owned businesses nearby as visitors saturated the area and spent nearly 3 billion last year, according to Asheville.com.

“A project like the Black Cultural Heritage Trail means connecting visitors and guests with Black-owned businesses here,” she said to Bloomberg.

To learn more about the trail and how it’s keeping the resilient stories of Black Americans, visit the website.