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.

Exhibit spotlights hidden local African-American history-attachment0

Exhibit spotlights hidden local African-American history

The Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office has opened an exhibit to commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and to remember those who were enslaved and their immeasurable contributions to our community. Along with the exhibit, the county has produced a short documentary, Forever Free, which features historians and descendants of slaves speaking on the significance of these records and the importance of acknowledging our past. Watch it here.

Disaster 2012 Web Extra: Remembering the 2004 floods-attachment0

Disaster 2012 Web Extra: Rememberin­g the 2004 floods

With speculation rampant across the world over the possibility of a mysterious cataclysmic event occurring tomorrow, Dec. 21 in conjunction with the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, Xpress took a look at more realistic local threats this week in the story “Tomorrow Never Knows: WNC Disasters Past, Present and Future.” As part of our research for that story, we compiled several photos from one of the biggest natural disasters to strike our region in modern history – the floods of 2004.

Tomorrow never knows: WNC disasters past, present and future-attachment0

Tomorrow never knows: WNC disasters past, present and future

Even as the holidays come barreling toward us, some folks around the globe fear the mythical planet Nibiru may be doing the same and will trigger some unspecified cataclysm on Dec. 21. Notwithstanding the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, however, local agencies seem focused on preparing for more realistic potential threats. Although it may not be the end of the world, Western North Carolina does remain vulnerable to a wide range of natural and human-made catastrophes, including floods, blizzards, fires and even nuclear accidents.

PHOTOS AND VIDEO: Historic Pearson house demolished

The claw of the demolition machine chomped through the Pearson House like a metal jaw. With each bite, the historic home revealed itself room by room. A painting still hung in an upstairs room. For those present for the demolition, this would be the last time the “grand lady” would stand on the grounds of the Richmond Hill Inn. The demolition happened Wednesday, Feb. 1. (photo by Caitlin Byrd)

Battles and backlash: Local author Bill Forstchen on Newt Gingrich, politics and history *Updated*-attachment0

Battles and backlash: Local author Bill Forstchen on Newt Gingrich, politics and history *Updated*

In the wake of releasing the ninth book he’s co-written with presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, local author/historian Bill Forstchen now finds himself in the throes of the Republican primary. And Gingrich’s huge win yesterday, Jan. 22, in the South Carolina primary, has brought renewed interest to the campaign.

Local Matters: WNC Union history, Ingles versus City Council and NC budget woes-attachment0

Local Matters: WNC Union history, Ingles versus City Council and NC budget woes

In this week’s Local Matters podcast, Xpress News Editor Margaret Williams talks to reporter Jake Frankel about the coming cover story on new perspectives on the “Marion Massacre” union strike, and with reporter David Forbes about Asheville City Council’s recent back-and-forth with the Ingles grocery chain, as well as their recent conversation with NC Treasurer Janet Cowell at a CIBO luncheon.