The African American Experience Project
Do you remember the time when you were sitting on the front porch with your grandparents and they told you a story? Not just any story, but a story that made you ask more questions, read more books, or share those stories that you learned as a child with your grandchildren. In 2018, Great Smoky Mountains National Park realized that there was a missing piece to its rich puzzle of history, which led to the park’s new project, the African American Experience Project.This project is a collaborative effort with park partners and the community to document and share the untold stories of African Americans in and outside the Smokies. These stories have been shared by many African Americans around crackling campfires, sun-beaten front porches, and the lamp lit bedrooms, but they have yet to be shared with the world.
To tell this story, the park is conducting research into African American experiences in the Great Smoky Mountains region of Appalachia from constructed 1540s to the present-day. Research topics in this framework include slavery, the American Civil War, social dynamics, laws and policies, careers, recreation, and oral histories. These are a few of the many key topics that will help park visitors understand this important, yet untold story.
Why Is This Project Important?
To fulfill this mission, we must create spaces that tell stories such as the African American accounts throughout the Appalachian Mountains. The results of this research will be used to educate park visitors, partners, and staff through teacher workshops, interpretive programs and products, and digital media. Please return to our park website or contact Antoine Fletcher for the most updated information or if you have any leads on people, places, or events that connect with the African American Experience Project.
Last updated: September 14, 2021