“I was tremendously moved by the combination of history, places, connections, present day successes and struggles infused with performance poetry and vibrant art murals."
Last week, staff of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County went on a Hood Huggers International tour. Led by Hood Huggers International founder DeWayne Barton, our team learned about Asheville’s historically African-American neighborhoods. Barton, an Asheville native, cofounded the Green Opportunities job training program as well as Burton Street Community Center’s Peace Garden.
“Hood Huggers took me to places in Asheville I have rarely been, with awesome co-workers I don’t spend enough time with, to learn some of the history of an oft forgotten and vital community in our city,” said Lance Edwards, Vice President, Community Investment UWABC. “We learned some specific challenges African Americans face and were provided food for thought on how we can shape a more inclusive future.”
Hood Huggers International offers sustainable strategies for building support pillars for resilient historically African-American neighborhoods, providing a framework for community capacity building while increasing the effectiveness of existing service programs. These strategies incorporate the arts, social enterprise, and the environment, building a culture of stability that inclusive and economically just.
“I was tremendously moved by the combination of history, places, connections, present day successes and struggles infused with performance poetry and vibrant art murals,” said Elizabeth Kelly, 2-1-1 Manager. “Thank you, DeWayne, for inspiring me to find and fight for justice and history and opportunities and love for everyone. Thank you for connections of past to present, of white to black, of vibrancy to dark places, of money to building community, of hope to action.”
This tour is part of a number of ongoing activities that UWABC staff will take part in to broaden and deepen our collective understanding of our community.
To learn more about Hood Huggers International and to schedule a tour, visit www.hoodhuggers.com.