Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Twlight of the Neighborhood: Asheville East End

Beginning in February, Pack Memorial Library will celebrate African-American History Month with an exhibit of photographs from the Andrea Clark Photography Collection. The exhibition will feature 50 photographs taken in the East End neighborhood of Asheville in the early 1970s.

In addition to the exhibition, photographer Andrea Clark will speak at Pack Memorial Library on Sunday, February 24 at 2:30pm. A reception and “front porch discussion” of the changes in the East End neighborhood will follow.

Davidson Street at intersection with Eagle Street, Stephens-Lee High School in the background

Andrea’s grandfather James Miller was a black brick mason and contractor whose construction company built many Asheville churches, homes and public buildings. Andrea grew up in Massachusetts and came to Asheville as a young woman in the late 1960s. The segregated black community she saw in the East End neighborhood amazed her, and she began taking photographs. Her subjects, accepting her as one of their own, allowed her to look directly into their faces and homes. The result is a compelling visual history of an often ignored segment of Asheville’s past.

The 1970s were a time of great change in Asheville. Attempting to integrate institutions and improve living conditions in the black community, the city of Asheville began an ambitious program of urban renewal. Hundreds of buildings on and around Valley and Southside streets were removed, and residents of that area were scattered across the city. Sadly, along with deteriorating structures, the black citizens of Asheville also lost beloved neighborhood schools, black-owned businesses and a strong sense of community. Andrea Clark’s powerful images document that lost African-American community, preserving a place and way of life that no longer exists.

For more information, call Pack Library at 250-4700 or email library@buncombecounty.org.

1 comment:

zen said...

Wow! Can't wait to give that a view and maybe hear Andrea Clark speak. Thanks.