The untold story: Smokies seeks to showcase history of African-Americans in the park

Many plotlines weave through the story of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but if the park were a book, some of those plotlines be written in bold, with others buried in small type. 

“We probably go overboard in telling the story of the white Appalachian settlers to this area,” said Susan Sachs, the park’s acting chief of resource education. “We do a better job of telling the stories of the Cherokee, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. But then when it comes to the African-American story, we know that we are failing there.”

Reflections on Haywood NAACP pilgrimage

By Katherine Bartel • Secretary, Haywood County NAACP

“My little brother Isaiah is, as you would call it, ‘a boy of color,’” said 11-year-old Alicia Matthews. “He is probably one of the smartest 6 year olds you’ll ever meet. One time we were playing in his room and all of a sudden he asks me a question just randomly out of the blue, ‘Alicia? Why do I have brown skin?’ At first, I didn’t know what to say to him because he is so young and he barely knew who he was. I said, ‘Because that’s who you are. So don’t try to be anyone else.’ He responded to me with a simple ‘OK’ because he is still very young and that’s just how he responds to those kinds of statements.” 

Haywood’s ‘hidden history’: Monument to Waynesville lynching victim could prove controversial

Almost 120 years ago, local newspapers reported two separate instances of attempted rape in Haywood County. 

Similarities between the two cases are many. Both victims were young girls under the age of 11, both alleged perpetrators were grown men, both knew their victims, both were apprehended and both were immediately jailed. 

Waynesville residents push for promised park

Years after demolishing a blighted structure in Waynesville’s historic African-American neighborhood, aldermen still haven’t funded the park that was supposed to take its place, and neighborhood residents aren’t happy. 

Constituents of color: Meadows defense of Trump angers many

Michael Cohen’s recent testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee took an unexpected dive deep into America’s racial divide, and Western North Carolina’s Congressman Mark Meadows jumped right in to it. 

That led to relentless lampooning of the four-term Republican, culminating in his buffoonish portrayal on a recent episode of Saturday Night Live, but Meadows’ constituents of color aren’t laughing. 

African-American history at Sunburst oft overlooked

In a county as old as Haywood, there exist all manner of half-remembered places and faces long gone from the physical world yet immortalized through penciled notes on the backs of dog-eared, sepia-toned photographs.

Sunburst, in southeastern Haywood County, is one of those places; the subject of intense historical research, it’s been documented better than most ghosts of Haywood past, but the story of Sunburst has always been short one chapter. 

Survey to document local African American history

A cultural survey currently underway that seeks to document the legacy of an overlooked Waynesville community could add to the town’s growing roster of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

New book chronicles African American history in WNC

An oral history project documenting African American history in the far western reaches of North Carolina is now a book, thanks to Waynesville’s Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center.

“I guess the motivation was because Haywood County just doesn’t have very much documented history of African Americans,” said Lyn Forney, the director of the Pigeon Center.

‘It’s five past five and time to jive’: Moonlighting mailman’s star won’t fade

As the sun rises over Papertown one bright morning in 1958, a 30-year-old African-American by the name of Nathaniel Lowery wakes up and, like hundreds of others, heads for the mill.

Forgotten Pigeon Street school has historic roots

More than a century ago, the state of African-American education in the antebellum South was so utterly deplorable that it took the combined forces of a civil rights pioneer and a department store magnate to make lasting improvements that continue to reverberate across the region, including in Western North Carolina.

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