Asheville’s Black Cultural Heritage Trail

Markers preserve the rich heritage of several Black communities.

Isaac Dickson with nephew James Wilson standing in front of his home at 133 Valley Street (late 1800s). Photo courtesy of Black Highlanders Collections, D. Hiden Ramsey Library Special Collections, UNCA.
Isaac Dickson with nephew James Wilson standing in front of his home at 133 Valley Street (late 1800s). Photo courtesy of Black Highlanders Collections, D. Hiden Ramsey Library Special Collections, UNCA.

Learn how Black people from all backgrounds built resilient communities and fostered social change in Asheville.

The Black Cultural Heritage Trail honors and preserves the rich heritage of Asheville’s Black community. Sites and stories range from well-known landmarks visible in the community today to the unsung heroes and under-recognized achievements and contributions by the Black community in the past.

Catherine Mitchell
Catherine Mitchell

Catherine Mitchell spoke at the ribbon cutting about her creative concepts to bring this project to fruition and the significance of a Black Cultural Heritage Trail in Asheville.

In 2010, residents of Asheville’s historically Black East End neighborhood proposed a trail to celebrate Black cultural heritage. River Front Development Group, a Black community development nonprofit founded in Asheville in 1996, committed to achieving these projects. River Front Development Group focused on co-creating and sharing narratives of often overlooked Black Ashevillians.

This trail celebrates the dignity, humanity, and agency of Black people. Community input on this project has been provided through the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail Committee.

The Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail leads visitors through three areas of Asheville: Downtown, Southside, and the River Area. The entire trail takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to walk and read.

Heritage Trail Sankofa marker
Heritage Trail Sankofa marker

As you walk the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail, you’ll notice trail markers with Sankofa birds on the sidewalk guiding you to your next destination.

Sankofa (SAHN-koh-fah) is a Twi word from the Akan Tribe of Ghana that loosely translates to “Go back and get it.” The literal translation comes from the Akan proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenkyiri,” which means “it is not taboo to go back for what you forgot (or left behind).”

The Sankofa bird encourages this thought: Take lessons from the past to build a brighter future. It also begs the question: Do we have the courage to do so? Keep that question in mind today as you walk this trail that recognizes injustice and suffering, and also commemorates the power and accomplishments of Asheville’s Black community.

Immerse yourself in the history and heroism of Black Ashevillians by walking the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail.

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