In 2023, the park established itsBlack Voices of Appalachia Oral History Project – featuring interviews collected from 2018 – 2023. Great Smoky Mountain employees conducted oral histories focusing on the experiences of African Americans in the park and region. Each African American interviewee sheds light on the history of Black folks in Appalachia by sharing their story.
Daniel “The Blackalachian” White
“There’s a lot of emotions,” said Daniel “The Blackalachian” White to interviewers during a 2021 oral history. Daniel was referring to the time that his brother dropped him off at a trailhead in Springer Mountain, Georgia on his first day of hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT). Daniel was not the first African American to hike the AT but he is among the most renowned in the United States. During this oral history, Daniel “The Blackalachian” White tells interviewers how hiking saved his life; his time growing up in Asheville, NC; his treacherous hike thru the Smokies; how he received his trail name; and how the AT inspired him to create a wilderness camp for underserved youth. Learn more about Daniel White's story by listening to his oral history.
Ron Davis Senior
The sun started to peek through the clouds of Elkmont’s Millionaire Row as Ron Davis Sr, a native of Knoxville, TN, guided Great Smoky Mountains interviewers to the remnants of a stone chimney. “That’s it, I believe!” Ron exclaimed as the gravel moved under his shoes. In this 2021 interview, Davis Sr. dives into how his family annually prepared the Mebane family’s cabin on Jake’s Creek for decades; recreating in the park, the joy and discrimination that he endured working for the Tennessee Valley Authority; and how the Great Smoky Mountains shaped the future of his family. Find out more about Ron Davis' journey in Elkmont by listening to his oral history.
Anne Miller Woodford
Although Anne Miller Woodford moved around the United States since attending Ohio University in 1969, she has always called “the far western part of North Carolina,” or Andrews, North NC, her home. In 2021, Anne Miller Woodford sat down with park interviewers to talk about the property that she grew up on in Andrews, known as “Happy Top”; the courtship of her mother and father; how she learned how to be an artist by painting on drywall; and how she is using art to impact Appalachia today. Explore Anne Miller Woodford's love for art by listening to her story.
Shirley Carr Clowney
“We were the first three Blacks that enrolled into Maryville College after Brown V. Board,” Shirley Carr Clowney told the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s oral history interviewer. Carr Clowney can remember when she and her two friends enrolled at Maryville College. She also recalls growing up in the old stone home that her father built on Hood Street and how her upbringing led her to research the history of African Americans in Blount County,becoming the author of Our Place in Time: Blacks in Blount County. Experince Shirley Carr Clowney's upbrining in Aloca, Tennessee by listening to her oral history.
Last updated: March 21, 2023