DENVER - History Colorado recently received a grant that will allow the museum to create an African American Heritage Trail throughout the state.
“History Colorado applied for and received a $50,000 grant,” said Dexter Nelson II, History Colorado Associate Curator of Black History and Cultural Heritage. “This trail is a little unique in the way we're approaching this. It's not your traditional trail. We're trying to take advantage of technology and utilize phones, so actually have the trail live as a digital application, but also communicate to actual physical sites you can go to.”
Nelson says the National Historic Trust Preservation awarded the museum the grant through it’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
The grant will allow History Colorado to gather oral histories from around the state to help shape the trail, according to Nelson.
“We don't want to just say, ‘Oh, here's your story of these three or four Black individuals,'" he said. "We want to say, 'Hey, we know there's a lot of history in your region. What stories are you guys telling?'"
Nelson says the virtual trail will be divided up into four regions around the state: southwest, southeast, northwest and northeast. Each region will have volunteer regional ambassadors who gather stories.
“I've created a group called the Regional Ambassadors. So it's a completely volunteer based program, but it's a way that people can actually opt-in to this and help me create this trail … we're still looking for people to do that,” he said. “The end result will be a phone application that people can log on to. They can find different stops with different historical content.”
Nelson says the virtual trail will highlight well-known historically Black neighborhoods and lesser-known areas.
“There's the Buffalo Soldiers, who are more in southwestern Oklahoma, like kind of Fort Garland area,” he said. “We want to do programs on Lincoln Hills for the 100 anniversary, want to do programs on Clara Brown and Don Cheadle and Pam Greer and just really celebrate the Black joy that's come from the state.”
Nelson says the African American Heritage Trail will trace the Black American experience in the West from pioneer days to the present so that Coloradans can learn about the Black history that surrounds them, not just in February but every day of the year.
To learn more about the African American Heritage Trail and volunteer opportunities, click here.