African American

There has never been a sizeable African-American population in the Smokies, and anecdotal evidence suggests that it may actually have decreased in the last half century. Certainly that’s the case in Swain County, North Carolina. Read more



Courtesy of East Riverside Photographs, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, UNC-Asheville, Asheville, N.C.

Enslaved Africans and free people of color and their descendants were sparsely located in the cultural region known as Appalachia, but don’t let the seeming invisibility fool you. The African cultural heritage is alive and well in Appalachia. Read more

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Sometime before the end of the Civil War, when “Father Abraham” had abolished slavery, thousands of African Americans found themselves facing an uncertain future. They were called “freedmen,” but how would they live? Read more

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YMI Cultural Center

Oliver Le Pord photo

Wealthy tycoon George W. Vanderbilt decided to erect an Asheville building “for the convenience and service of colored men and boys” who were helping to build his Biltmore House in the 1890s. Read more