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Great Smoky Mountains announces virtual events exploring African American history in the park

After the 30-minute presentations, facilitators will then lead an open discussion about current research and upcoming projects.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced three town hall events this fall exploring the history of African Americans in and around the park. 

The 30-minute programs are hosted by Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, University of North Carolina Asheville and Western Carolina University.

  • September 16 at 7:00 p.m. - Ashville-Buncombe Technical Community College  
  • October 14 (time to be determined) - Western North Carolina University  
  • October 22 (time to be determined) - The University of North Carolina-Asheville  

After the presentations, facilitators will then lead an open discussion about current research and upcoming projects, according to a release.

The park said African Americans have been in the Great Smoky Mountains region since at least the early 16th century, but knowledge of their presence is relatively low. Officials are conducting this research effort to better understand the untold history of the African American experience in southern Appalachia.  

“In the heart of these mountains, you can find an African American doctor who served his community for 40 years, Job Corpsmen who continued the legacy of the CCC by building roads and trails that we enjoy today, and sacred burial grounds that date back to the 1860s,” said Science Communicator Antoine Fletcher. “Better understanding this unique African American experience helps us better share the full history of the Appalachian mountains.”  

For more information and registration, visit the town hall events page on the park website

The research is supported by Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains Association. For more information on how you can be involved, contact Science Communicator Antoine Fletcher at Antoine_Fletcher@nps.gov.