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Green Pastures: A Sacred Place for African Americans in Appalachia, Receives Revitalization Planning
Town Of Clifton Forge Gets $217,000 Grant For The Project

Clifton Forge, VA (July 1, 2024) - The Green Pastures Recreation Area, also known as the Longdale Day Use Area, holds significant cultural importance as a recreational haven for African Americans during an era of segregation. Established by the US Forest Service in response to the discriminatory policies of nearby Douthat State Park, Green Pastures opened in 1936 and became a vital community gathering place. This effort in the 1930s was championed by Reverend Hugo Austin and the Clifton Forge Chapter of the NAACP.

Today, the Green Pastures site is set to undergo a revitalization effort led by a collaborative partnership aimed at reigniting community interest and preserving its historical legacy. The Town of Clifton Forge pursued a grant opportunity from Monuments Across Appalachian Virginia and was one of five projects that were awarded. In cooperation with local stakeholders, preservation groups, and Douthat State Park, the project will introduce an interpretive trail and a staged reading to showcase the rich heritage and stories associated with Green Pastures.

“We hope that sharing the long and rich story of Green Pastures both visually with trail markers and orally in a staged reading will give many the opportunity to tell their own stories,” says Joan Vannorsdall of the What’s Your Story? Project. “As activist and writer Patty Digh says, ‘The shortest distance between two people is a story.’”

The interpretive trail will weave through existing recreational paths at Green Pastures, offering visitors an immersive journey through its storied past. Meanwhile, the stage reading at the Historic Masonic Theatre will bring to life the memories and anecdotes cherished by generations of Clifton Forge residents.

In addition to these cultural monuments, the project will include enhancements to the existing trail infrastructure and the restoration of the historic picnic shelter, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy and learn from this historic site.

About MAAV

Monuments Across Appalachian Virginia is based in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech and is part of a $250 million initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation. The Mellon Foundation’s Monuments Project began in 2020 to support public projects that reimagine commemorative spaces and transform the way history is told in the United States. MAAV is led by Dr. Emily Satterwhite of Virginia Tech’s Appalachian Studies Program and Dr. Katrina Powell of Virginia Tech’s Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies.

MAAV is proud to enable, support, and reward meaningful and extensive university-community collaborations. Through these collaborations, MAAV works to ensure greater participation in decision-making and governance by community partners. They are committed to collective, reflexive, and reciprocal working relationships through which new projects develop in coordination with organizations, constituents, stakeholders, and designers. Green Pastures: A Sacred Place for African Americans in Appalachia is one of nine MAAV Projects. To learn more about those projects please visit www.moremountainstories.org.

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