Home / News / African-American Legacy Trail sheds light on African-American history in Clarksville

African-American Legacy Trail sheds light on African-American history in Clarksville

History is an unchanging factor in life that can only be diminished by being forgotten. In the tide of knowledge, learning the history of the world can broaden one’s horizons, and discovering local history is just as fascinating.

The African-American Legacy Trail honors African-American history and leadership found in Montgomery County through 18 locations scattered across Clarksville.

The 18 locations form a downtown walking trail and county drive, highlighting the significance of individual leaders and their influences on medicine, sports, art and leadership.

“The brochure was created by a community of people who wanted to make a tangible piece of history that allows for many histories to be honored,” Shana Thornton, the mind behind the Trail as well as a local author and a graduate of APSU said. “The people and places on the brochure are the legacies.”

Thornton formulated the project when she found no such brochure already existed. She found that herself among many others she met with were curious to know more about African-American history in Clarksville, though no resource was available. Through research, conversations, designs and more, Thornton began to create an entire community dedicated to the project.

She was certainly not alone in the endeavor as she received help from Rossview High School Academy of Media Arts and Technology. Reaching out to the students gave more notoriety to the project and doubled to teach students more about planning.

The students also formulated the initial ideas of the project, deciding that the map and photos within the brochure could be like a poster or a keepsake while the inner text could be concise without telling the whole story.

After the first year of planning, Thornton met Kathryn Boyer who stepped in to become the designer for the brochure. She worked to incorporate a complex design into the brochure would be shared with researchers, citizens and native Clarksvillians and met with creating applause.

Her presence would arrive in a year of invigoration, as Thornton said, “Overwhelmingly, we received joyful, happy, celebratory responses,” in reference to the brochure’s design and information. It also went to show that there was indeed an interest in the community for such a project and that people were eager to hear stories and to tell their legacies.

She worked with Montgomery County to make the project a reality, giving her access to many more resources. With ties to the county, she was able to work to put the Legacy Trail information online and discuss forming interactive maps, making it that more accessible for anyone who may be interested.

“We hope the Legacy Trail grows with the community to create new commerce and celebrations that further honor these leaders,” Thornton said. It was important to note the role the community had in remembering history and leadership, as none of it could be possible without the support of citizens and their remembrance of history.

The Celebration and Community Conversation occurs Feb. 19 from 5 – 7 p.m. in the atrium of the Clarksville Montgomery County Public Library. The event is free and open to the public. The goal is to learn more about African-American history in Montgomery County.

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