In May 2017, four Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC staff members and esteemed local Big Brother of five years Jeff Paul spent an afternoon with DeWayne Barton of Hood Huggers International as he led us on his “Hood Tour: a journey through an ever-evolving patchwork of sites that all play an important part in weaving the history of Asheville’s African American community.
“I heard about the Hood Tour through a teacher at Francine Delany, and it seemed like a great opportunity to learn about the history of African-American communities in Asheville,” says BBBS WNC Assistant Director Jamye Davis.
“As local citizens—and in our work with families and mentors at Big Brothers Big Sisters—it’s important for our staff to learn about and appreciate the rich history of African-Americans in Asheville over many decades and the societal, cultural and economic factors that affect African-Americans in Asheville today,” she says.
On its home page Hood Huggers describes the tour thus: “Hood Tours is an intimate, interactive experience that is guaranteed to leave you looking at this mountain town with new eyes,” and that is exactly what the tour accomplishes.Beginning at Stephens-Lee Recreation Center on the east side and wrapping up at the Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center on the south side—the individuals and landmarks featured in the tour change a bit each time explained Barton, but what is consistent is that the individuals and institutions highlighted consistently weave a story that gives participants a deeper understanding of Asheville’s African American community—its history and its heritage.
Check out the photos for a window into the story the Hood Tour helped to tell: