The Swannanoa Valley This is Home: Western North Carolina, Past and Present Series explores key historical, cultural, and ecological aspects of the Western North Carolina region with monthly evening lectures, taking place February thru November at the Education Room of the Black Mountain Public Library (105 N. Dougherty Street). These hour-long meet-ups engage the many stories that have shaped the Swannanoa Valley as a place and look at the human and natural forces that have shaped the region, bringing these histories into a present-day context. Each presentation ends with a Q&A discussion bringing our shared history into context with contemporary issues. This year, learn more about the place you call home by exploring topics such as local women’s history, the long traditions of ballad singing in Southern Appalachia, legal history of Native American dispossession, and many more!

When & Where: WNC, Past and Present lectures take place once a month, February thru November on Thursday evenings from 6:00pm to 7:15pm at the Education Room of the Black Mountain Public Library (105 N Dougherty St., Black Mountain, NC 28711) unless stated otherwise.

Cost: Tickets are FREE for museum members who use their promo code, $10 (plus fees) for general admission. If you are not financially able to afford to attend this series, please contact the Swannanoa Valley Museum at 828-669-9566 for scholarship availability.

2023 Series Schedule

NameDate
The African American Experience in the Smokies: Making the Invisible Visible*RESCHEDULED* Tuesday, February 21st, 6:00-7:15pm
Women of the Crawford FamilyThursday, March 9th, 6:00-7:15pm
A Brief History of Air: A North Carolina StoryThursday, April 13th, 6:00-7:15pm
Christmas in Captivity: The Japanese American Incarceration at Montreat, 1942-43 (ONLINE ZOOM)Thursday, May 18th, 6:00-7:15pm
“Scattered Hippies, Rednecks” and “Transgender Two Spirit Warriors”: What Blue Ridge Pride LGBTQIA+ Archive Shares About the Swannanoa River ValleyThursday, June 8th, 6:00-7:15pm
Educational Leadership and the Allen School, 1865-1930Thursday, July 6th, 6:00-7:15pm
All Aboard for Asheville and The Swannanoa Valley: A Vintage Postcard Journey by Rail, 1880-1930Thursday, August 17th, 6:00-7:15pm
TBDThursday, September 7th, 6:00-7:15pm
Ballad Singing in the Great DivideThursday, October 12th, 6:00-7:15pm
The Marshall Trilogy to Standing RockThursday, November 9th, 6:00-7:15pm

2023 Series Details and Registration

*RESCHEDULED* February 21st: The African American Experience in the Smokies: Making the Invisible Visible

This event will be held at the Swannanoa Valley Museum (223 W State St., Black Mountain, NC 28711).

In 2018, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSMNP) started The African American Experiences in the Smokies Project (AAESP). This project focuses on the overlooked history of African Americans in the Smokies and Southern Appalachia. In the 1800’s, southern Appalachia was a remote and socio-economically challenged region. Even with its challenges families thrived, survived, and died in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina for decades. Many of these family’s decedents are living or buried in the area today. This long-standing history of early white settlers and enslaved and free people of color has led to extensive records of cemeteries in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although the park has documented well-over 150 cemeteries since the 1990’s, African American burials within these cemeteries are not well documented as their white counterparts. In 2019, the park’s AAESP pledged to learn more about African American culture through discovered and undiscovered burials.  This research effort of African American burials may help shed light on the lives of African Americans in the park and region. REGISTER HERE

About Antoine Fletcher (click here)

For over 16 years, Antoine Fletcher has been a devoted employee of the National Park Service. He has worked at parks such as Fort Sumter National Monument, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, and now world-renowned Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He’s contributed to the National Park Service through interpretation and education, partnerships, and currently science communication at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and currently resides in Asheville, NC. 

March 9th: Women of the Crawford Family

Over 100 years ago, women entrepreneurs responded to the influx of tourists arriving with the advent of the railroad to Black Mountain. Among them were Callie Crawford, owner of the Crawford House, a boarding house on Montreat Road and her four daughters, including Claudia Crawford McGraw, remembered as “the apron lady of Black Mountain.”  Learn more about the roles of the Crawford women in Black Mountain history.

During the Q& A, please share about women entrepreneurs in your family who contributed to Black Mountain history. REGISTER HERE

About Amy Arrendell (click here)

Amy Arrendell is a Crawford woman. Her grandfather, Adm GC Crawford, is the son and brother of the Crawford women featured in this talk. A retired entrepreneur herself, Amy is now an avid hiker, grandmother and volunteer at the Dr. John Wilson community garden in Black Mountain

April 13th: A Brief History of Air: A North Carolina Story

Air is everywhere. It is invisible, has minimal mass, is hard to feel, and clean air keeps us alive. The North Carolina Division of Air Quality has the responsibility of keeping air clean, because each person uses thousands of gallons of air each day. But we also use air to make energy. Cars use air and fuel to move forward, and our electricity comes from combustion.

Keith Bamberger, Information Specialist from the NC Division of Air Quality, will share the unique story of North Carolina and clean air. We will look at the past, how NC scientist provided the framework of understanding what air pollution is and isn’t, how it effects people and plants, how NC responded to that information, and why NC has some of the cleanest air not only in the Southeast, but the world.

We will also have a conversation about what individuals can do to keep the air clean, save money, the climate, and the future of the air. REGISTER HERE

About Keith Bamberger (click here)

Keith Bamberger, N.C. Division of Air Quality, started working with the teachers and students of North Carolina in 2004. As a certified Environmental Educator from N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and an Energy Management degree from NCSU, he brings together mind-active and hands-on teaching tools with practical science focused on health, energy, and personal economy. His goal is to help the people of North Carolina better understand that they are both a part of the cause and solutions to our air quality problems, and he helps students see opportunities for future jobs and ways to save money while protecting their own health.

May 18th: Christmas in Captivity: The Japanese American Incarceration at Montreat, 1942-43 (online Zoom)

In 1942-43, Japanese American women and children from Hawai’i, mostly US citizens by birth, were moved by the State Department through Montreat and the Grove Park Inn in Asheville en route to Japan. Theirs would be a difficult journey and postwar life, with many of the children regaining their US citizenship eventually. This talk looks at their interactions with locals during their months at Montreat, many of them affectionate and highlighted by a famous Christmas caroling, and the way that the State Department contract benefited Montreat’s infrastructure. REGISTER HERE

About Heidi Kim (click here)

Heidi Kim is a Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and Director of the Asian American Center at UNC Chapel Hill. She has published two books on U.S. literature during the Cold War and its reflection of domestic race relations and geopolitics and numerous other articles on topics ranging from antislavery literature to, most recently, a comparison of Edna Ferber and William Faulkner. She researches and speaks extensively on the literature and history of the Japanese American incarceration, including editing the story of an incarcerated family from Hawai‘i in Taken from the Paradise Isle (UP Colorado, 2015), which won an Aloha Beyond the Sea Award from the Hawaii Book Publishers Association.

June 8th: “Scattered Hippies, Rednecks” and “Transgender Two Spirit Warriors”: What Blue Ridge Pride LGBTQIA+ Archive Shares About the Swannanoa River Valley

Blue Ridge Pride LGBTQIA+ Archive launched in 2019 as a partnership between Amanda Wray, UNC Asheville Special Collections, and Blue Ridge Pride. They are an oral history and physical artifacts repository that aims to showcase the many LGBTQ+ heroes who have lived with courage, fought erasure, and contributed to the gradual de-stigmatization of LGBTQ+ identity within this region. This presentation draws on 106 oral histories, summarizing points where Swannanoa is mentioned by name, including a Miami transplant’s description through their childhood eyes, a woman caretaking with her father, and a nature retreat for transgender folks that attracted an international following.  REGISTER HERE

About Amanda Wray (click here)

Amanda Wray serves on the board of Blue Ridge Pride and teaches courses at UNC Asheville in writing, oral history, and gender / sexuality studies. She’s a first generation college student from Southern Appalachia (Kentucky) and project founder of the Blue Ridge Pride LGBTQIA+ Archive.

July 6th: Educational Leadership and the Allen School, 1865-1930

From humble beginnings, education in Buncombe County would not have progressed without the efforts of middle-class Black women. This presentation will discuss the work of several prominent Black women educators who were instrumental in creating and providing fair and equitable educational opportunities for the Black Community in Swannanoa and Asheville from 1880 to 1930. The history of The Allen Industrial School and its impact on the local area will also be discussed.  REGISTER HERE

About Kelly Dunbar (click here)

Kelly Dunbar grew up in Asheville and is a graduate of A.C. Reynolds High School. She graduated from UNC-Asheville in 2004 with her BA in History/Education and from 2004 to 2006 she served as an education volunteer in the United States Peace Corps in Uganda.  After returning from her service she began teaching at Buncombe County Middle College in 2007.  In 2020 she graduated from Pace University with her MA in American History where she wrote her capstone thesis titled, PIONEERS IN COMMUNITY BUILDING AND RACIAL UPLIFT BLACK WOMEN IN BUNCOMBE COUNTY 1865-1930.  She currently teaches American History and Advanced Placement American History at Owen High School and was chosen by the state as the North Carolina History Teacher of the Year for 2022.

August 17th: All Aboard for Asheville and The Swannanoa Valley: A Vintage Postcard Journey by Rail, 1880-1930

Based on The Buncombe County Name Game Book by Mary McPhail Standaert, PhD. Over 300 posts written and distributed serially during the year of COVID-19. Mary will take participants on a journey through Asheville and the Swannanoa Valley using vintage postcards from her and her husband Joe’s vast collection. REGISTER HERE

About Mary McPhail Standaert (click here)

Mary and her husband Joe have collected postcards of the area for over 35 years with now some 3,000 vintage postcards of Buncombe County in their collection. Using these images, they have written 4 books on the history of The Swannanoa Valley, presented numerous talks, taught multiple courses on the history of The Swannanoa Valley for the McCall Life-long Learning Program, and led hikes for The Swannanoa Valley Museum.

Books: Montreat: A Postcard History and The Swannanoa Valley: A Postcard History by Mary and Joe Standaert are both available at the Swannanoa Valley Museum for purchase.

The Montreat Gateboys and Their Stories and The Buncombe County Name Game by Mary Standaert are self-published and are available from the Standaerts.

September 7th: TBD

This presentation is TBD. Please check back soon for updates!

October 12th: Ballad Singing in the Great Divide

The ballad singing tradition has its roots in English and Scottish immigrants who brought them to the Southern Appalachian borderlands over 400 years ago. In this session, Ian Kirkpatrick will share discoveries from the 20th century collections of regional Songcatchers such as Cecil Sharp, Artus Moser, and Tilman Cadle. He will also discuss the efforts of local ballad singers to preserve the tradition into the 21st century and the virtual era. REGISTER HERE

About Ian Kirkpatrick (click here)

Ian Kirkpatrick is a ballad singer, clogger, and folklorist from East Tennessee.  He has participated in local and regional ballad singing events since 2013.  In 2019, Kirkpatrick received an MA in Appalachian Studies with a concentration in Music and Culture from Appalachian State University.  Since graduation, he has been awarded multiple folk arts apprenticeships from South Arts and Tennessee Arts Commission to study under ballad singing mentors Sheila Kay Adams, Carmen McCord Hicks, and the late Bobby McMillon. In 2021, Kirkpatrick was recognized by South Arts as an Emerging Traditional Artist.

November 9th: The Marshall Trilogy to Standing Rock

Dr. George D. Pappas will examine the literary pathways that transformed fiction into U.S. law in order to dispossess Native Americans of their ancient homelands. Using a discursive analysis, Pappas will offer a unique insight into decoding how the U.S. Supreme Court camouflaged its dehumanization of Native Americans to obtain ownership of their land. Known collectively as the Marshall Trilogy, these three decisions issued between 1823 and 1832 “formed the legal basis for the dispossession of indigenous populations,” according to Pappas. REGISTER HERE

About Dr. George Pappas (click here)

Born in Charlotte, NC to Greek immigrant parents, but raised in New York City, George D. Pappas is an attorney in Hendersonville, NC representing clients in Western North Carolina and nationwide in U.S. immigration law. Dr. Pappas is also the Executive Director of the International Center for Legal Studies (ICLS) teaching University of London law students worldwide and a member of the Cherokee Supreme Court (Eastern Band).

In addition to practicing law, since 2006 Dr. Pappas has researched and written his book The Literary and Legal Genealogy of Native American Dispossession –  The Marshal Trilogy Cases 1823-1832 published by The Francis & Taylor Group. Pappas’ book explains how the U.S. Supreme Court blurred the distinction between literature and law, especially colonial literature, to dispossess Native Americans of their land. Additionally, he has also published articles in Truthout, Critical Legal Thinking, Folio Magazine, American Banker, Countertrade Quarterly, among other publications.

Dr. Pappas has lectured on Native American law, history and culture in addition to U.S. Immigration Law at the University of London (Queen Mary College), The University of North Carolina – Asheville, Appalachian State University, Emory University, The North Carolina Bar Association, The Buncombe County Bar Association and the World Affairs Council of Western North Carolina.

Dr. Pappas holds degrees from the London School of Economics & Political Science; The University of London, Delaware Law School, Widener University and Birkbeck College, University of London. He also earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Birkbeck College, University of London.