Signs of History African American Heritage Trail

Signs of History

Some new signs in New Bern may have recently caught your eye. There are 16 sign panels that were installed of late that explain and interpret significant historic events, people and places that pertain to the African American heritage within the greater Craven Terrace/Dryborough neighborhood. You are invited to help dedicate the signs of the African American Heritage Trail on Saturday, June 19th at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Broad and Roundtree Streets in New Bern as part of the Juneteenth commemoration.

This ceremony, to which the public is invited, will celebrate the integration of these stories into the remarkable history of New Bern and Craven County, a shared history that belongs to all who call this area home or choose to visit here. We share one history with many stories, remarkable in their diversity and their interdependence. John Hope Franklin was right when he said that we should never stop telling these stories. What a heritage.

The development of these signs has been guided by a committee chaired by local historian Bernard George and sponsored by the Historic Dryborough Neighborhood Association, the New Bern Historical Society, the City of New Bern and the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office.

Professor John Hope Franklin, a greatly admired scholar of African American history at Duke University through the second half of the 20th century once remarked that New Bern and Craven and Carteret Counties have, perhaps, the most interesting African American stories in the nation. Yet these stories were systematically suppressed by the revisionist historians of the Jim Crow and segregation eras. In recent years, renewed interest has resulted in research, lectures, books and reenactments that have brought these stories back to life. These signs will continue that interest.

Funds for this project resulted from mitigation when a lease was granted to Craven Terrace LP by the Housing Authority of the City of New Bern for the rehabilitation of the Craven Terrace housing complex, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A five-year process has resulted in the creation of the sixteen signs, seen as a solid start in the creation of additional signs telling remarkable stories. The committee is committed to continuing this process.

Submitted by Kathy Morrison, New Bern Historical Society