*RESCHEDULED* February 21st: The African American Experience in the Smokies: Making the Invisible Visible
This event will be held at the Swannanoa Valley Museum (223 W State St., Black Mountain, NC 28711).
In 2018, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSMNP) started The African American Experiences in the Smokies Project (AAESP). This project focuses on the overlooked history of African Americans in the Smokies and Southern Appalachia. In the 1800’s, southern Appalachia was a remote and socio-economically challenged region. Even with its challenges families thrived, survived, and died in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina for decades. Many of these family’s decedents are living or buried in the area today. This long-standing history of early white settlers and enslaved and free people of color has led to extensive records of cemeteries in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although the park has documented well-over 150 cemeteries since the 1990’s, African American burials within these cemeteries are not well documented as their white counterparts. In 2019, the park’s AAESP pledged to learn more about African American culture through discovered and undiscovered burials. This research effort of African American burials may help shed light on the lives of African Americans in the park and region.