African American Heritage Trail

 

 

The African American Heritage Trail is a two-mile urban trail in the heart of Columbia, Mo. The trail honors local Black people and institutions from the city’s first 200 years.

For much of its 200 years, Columbia was two cities divided by race. During most of those decades, Blacks were not allowed to shop in white-owned stores, attend their schools and churches, or receive services from most white professionals such as doctors and lawyers. As a result, “The Other Columbia” materialized. It was largely independent from the rest of the city and was located within about 30 square blocks on the north side of Broadway in central Columbia.

After the conclusion of the American Civil War in 1865, with Columbia mostly segregated, Blacks began building their own businesses and institutions where they worked, shopped and socialized. The African American Heritage Trail is a tour of this historic area, which changed dramatically in the 1960s after a controversial program known as urban renewal eliminated many black-owned homes and enterprises.

The trail includes more than 20 informational markers highlighting people and institutions significant to the city’s history. Completed in 2020, the project was spearheaded by the Sharp End Heritage Committee, in collaboration with Columbia Parks and Recreation, and with financial support from several local businesses and individuals.

REDI’s offices are located on the land once home to Sharp End, the Black business and entertainment district that was demolished during urban renewal. REDI is proud to sponsor two markers along the African American Heritage Trail, one to honor entrepreneur Annie Fisher, and another to honor Clara Miles and the Miles Manor subdivision.

 

Resources for walking the trail

African American Heritage Trail map — To view or print the trail map, click here https://www.columbiaredi.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/African-American-Hertiage-Trail-Printable-Map.pdf

African American Heritage Trail brochure with map and marker descriptions

Printed copies of the brochure with a map of the trail are available at REDI and other locations.

View the brochure at https://www.columbiaredi.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/AAHT-brochure-8.5×11-view.pdf

To print the brochure on 8.5 x 11 pages, click here – https://www.columbiaredi.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/AAHT-brochure-8.5×11-print.pdf

To print the brochure/map on 11×17 paper to fold into a brochure, click here – https://www.columbiaredi.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/AAHT-11×17-foldable-brochure.pdf

OtoCast App  —  Follow the African American Heritage Trail by using a free app available through OtoCast. Download the free OtoCast app from your phone’s app store, and search “African American Heritage Trail”. The app offers an audio presentation to accompany each marker, along with photos of the people and places honored, and directions to follow the trail.

Educational booklet – An educational booklet for self-guided tours and reflection was created by a history instructor at Columbia’s Hickman High School. You can find that resource at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iSo34JhXt-DYG0K8B7Eg_nrNDqx_uC5G/view

 

Videos reflecting on Sharp End and the African American Heritage Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further Reading

Sharp End: The Sorrid History of Race, Space, and Inequality in Columbia, Missouri

Remembering Sharp End Neighborhood (Vox Magazine)

Sharp End District remembered for togetherness (Columbia Missourian)

Last building in historic Sharp End District a reminder of its legacy (Columbia Missourian)

Historic Missourians – Annie Fisher

Columbia’s hidden figure: Verna Laboy brings Annie Fisher to life