Center for Diverstity Education Director Deborah Miles and APD Officer Ervin Hunter stand before a new exhibit honoring local slave history. Thirteen years ago, Hunter was one of about 20 high school students hired to do research that illuminated the lives of Buncombe County slaves such as Sarah Gudger (pictured in the middle). Photos by Max Cooper.

Bought & Sold: Forgotten documents highlight local slave history

In Buncombe County, thousands of slaves toiled as cooks, farmers, tour guides, maids, blacksmiths, tailors, miners, farmers, road builders and more, local records show. And after mostly ignoring that troubled history for a century and a half, the county is now taking groundbreaking steps to honor the contributions of those former residents by making its slave records readily available online.