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.