Video Profiles Spotlight Local Black Leaders

This month, Explore Asheville is focusing on Black community leaders who honor and shine light on Asheville's Black past while working to create a brighter future. Sourcing from local content creators, we're sharing these individuals' stories on our social channels and on, posting one new video each week during Black History/Black Legacy Month. Shown above, clockwise from top left:

  • Matthew Bacoate Jr. – Former leader of AFRAM, the largest Black-owned business of its kind during the late 1960s and early '70s; organizer of the Skyview Golf Tournament and advocate for Black-owned businesses.
  • Dr. Oralene Anderson Graves Simmons – Chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County; helped integrate public institutions through ASCORE; was the first Black student at Mars Hill College.
  • J Hackett & Bruce Waller – Leaders of Black Wall Street AVL, which honors history while working to grow and support Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs in Western North Carolina.
  • Andrea Clark – Photographer and granddaughter of brick mason James Vester Miller, whose legacy she is honoring as the founder of the James Vester Miller Trail (see story below).
WATCH: Celebrating Asheville's Black History


Walking Trails Focus on Black History & Heritage

Brick by brick, James Vester Miller built many of Asheville's most remarkable structures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The works of this once enslaved African American turned master mason can now be experienced first-hand thanks to a new self-guided walking trail developed by his granddaughter, Andrea Clark (see previous story). Recently, Explore Asheville worked with Clark to launch a digital version of the walking trail to further share Miller's accomplishments.

Meanwhile, the newly assembled Advisory Committee for another history trail – Asheville's African American Heritage Trail – will meet for the first time this month as the project continues to move forward, with plans for completion in 2023.

MORE: James Vester Miller Digital Trail


Restoration of Historic Landmark Earns National Exposure

Explore Asheville is helping tell the story of the restoration of Rabbit's, the historic Black-owned tourist court and dining room from the segregation-era South. Now a musician rehearsal space, SoundSpace @ Rabbit's will soon launch a soul food kitchen with local chef Clarence Robinson. This historic landmark honors the Black community of Southside in Asheville and the history of the motel, including famous guests like Richard Pryor and R&B legend Jackie Wilson. National coverage includes the following:

Photo courtesy of Fred Khan

MORE: SoundSpace @ Rabbit's



SoCon Is Almost Here! Get Fan-tastic Exposure for Your Business

The Southern Conference Basketball Championships return to Asheville March 3-7. Engage with visiting fans with a coupon listing on the SoCon microsite. This page is being promoted by the conference and member schools to help people get excited about visiting Asheville, providing exposure to your business. Find Explore Asheville Extranet coupon instructions below. Use the coupon category “SoCon.” (While you're at it, order tickets too!)

What's your sustainability story? We want to know!

Share your sustainability story with us! To help better highlight your sustainable practices, eco-friendly guest offerings, and corporate social responsibility programs, Explore Asheville is gathering insights ahead of spring media outreach, content, and marketing efforts in 2022. Click through below to share your eco-conscious efforts and news. (Not ready to share your news just yet? Feel free to email the Explore Asheville marketing team any time!)

QUICK 'n' EASY: Share Your Sustainability Story

Need New Visitor Guides? Order by March 1 for Free Delivery

Explore Asheville engaged with a host of Asheville photographers and writers to create 84 jam-packed pages of content in the Official Asheville Visitor Guide for 2022, all in alignment with Buncombe County TDA's strategic imperatives. Free distribution to partners is available through a contract we established with Mountain Xpress – simply place your order by the first day of each month for that month's delivery. Order by March 1 for March delivery or pick up copies anytime from the front desk of the Asheville Visitor Center.

ORDER: Official 2022 Asheville Visitor Guides


Local Events This Month Supported by Buncombe County TDA
Plus, Get a Hot Deal at Local Restaurants

In alignment with Explore Asheville's strategic imperatives (see below), Buncombe County TDA is a supporter of the following February events:

Funding for sponsorships and grants for local events comes from revenue earned through initiatives such as advertising by partners on

Hop on Board the Flavor Flight: The tastiest ticket in town is back with buy-one-get one deals from 50 independently owned restaurants in Buncombe County. Grab a 2022 Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR) Passport – while they're still available – for BOGO offers and discounts for local eateries, from brunch to barbeque, tacos to tapas. Order here or purchase at the Visitor Center in the Asheville Shop at 36 Montford Avenue.


  • WHAT: Quarterly deadline to apply for sponsorship support from Buncombe County TDA
  • WHO: Buncombe-based nonprofits providing professional/community development opportunities that serve the local community
  • MORE INFO: Details (scroll to bottom of page)
  • WHAT: Monthly meeting of the Buncombe County TDA
  • WHEN: 9:00–11:00 a.m.
  • HOW: Via Zoom Webinar
  • MORE INFO: Details to come here


24 Pages of Local Faces & Places!

Through a partnership with the media brand Monocle, which targets a domestic and international audience of decision-makers and business influencers, a 24-page section on Asheville in the December/January edition spotlighted some three dozen local business leaders and makers. The stories illustrate our community's rugged independence and creative spirit and closely aligns our sales and marketing efforts with targeted business sectors to help diversify our local economy.

DOWNLOAD: "Asheville On The Rise"

AVL Recovery, Group Sales Update & Memorializing Pioneers

Headlines in the most recent edition of the Tourism Community Update newsletter include these and more. We invite you to check it out.

  • Hotel Occupancy Down Slightly in November from 2019; December Numbers on Par
  • Recovery Is Strong for Asheville Regional Airport
  • Group Sales Team Pursues New Business in Key Growth Sectors; Sees Success in Booking Off-Peak
  • New Report Provides a Monthly Update on Explore Asheville's Progress on Strategic Imperatives
  • Remembering Pioneers Craig Madison & Karen Cragnolin
SEE WHAT YOU MISSED: Tourism Community Update


Deliver Balanced Recovery & Sustainable Growth | Encourage Safe & Responsible Travel |
Engage & Invite More Diverse Audiences | Promote & Support Asheville's Creative Spirit

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