People in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are sharing stories from the past to piece together an African-American heritage trail.
The educational trail's planners invited the community to a workshop Saturday at the Jefferson School's African-American Heritage Center to discuss sites significant to the area's black history. The goal is to create a comprehensive map that can eventually be used for education and tourism.
“Everybody's got their little piece of the puzzle and we just want to be sure that all those pieces reside in one place,” said Charlottesville Vice Mayor Dede Smith.
Smith sticks dots on a map of the city to mark historical sites for an African-American heritage trail.
“This is just the first real attempt to bring the stories really, almost physically together so that we have a collective base from which to draw on this really valuable history,” said Smith.
Saturday, dozens of people gathered at the Jefferson School to present background on historical locations for the black community- including family homes, churches and cemeteries.
“This is really what we're after - to recreate some lost histories and then to understand that these communities are equally important to the development of this area and the prosperity of this area as any other community,” said Andrea Douglas, Heritage Center director.
Planners say as more research surfaces, more connections can be made on this path.
“These aren't isolated stories over here or there. Particularly after the Civil War, there was a really cohesive community,” said Smith.
Organizers hope the trail can one day be used as a tool for teachers and tourists.
“One of the things that we do that is important to us at the Heritage Center is getting school kids to know about their community,” said Douglas.
“As we develop things such as a walking tour or a driving tour or a book or a brochure - there's so many different ways to represent this history that once have a collective foundation for all of the different stories,” said Smith.
The African-American Heritage Center already has a smartphone app with about 10 locations pinpointed around the Jefferson School.
The center partnered with several groups to compile information at Saturday's event.
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