Rebuilding Affrilachia: The Art of Resilience
Hood Huggers International, LLC offers sustainable strategies for building support pillars for resilient historically African American neighborhoods, providing a framework for community capacity building while increasing the effectiveness of existing service programs. These strategies incorporate the arts, social enterprise, and the environment, building a culture of stability that inclusive and economically just.
DeWayne Barton (B-Love), Founder & CEO of Hood Huggers International, is a sculptor and poet who combines his creative practice with community activism. A native of Asheville, NC, Barton grew up in Washington, D.C. and is a Gulf War Veteran. He attended Norfolk State University from 1996-1999, majoring in Social Work. He is the author of two books of poetry, Urban Nightmare Silent Screams and Return to Burton Street, and has been involved in community improvement and youth development for over 20 years.
As a visual and performing artist, Barton is involved in justice issues — both through his art and his community involvement. His mixed-media, found-art installations have been featured at Duke University, Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of African American History and Culture, Upstairs Gallery, and August Wilson Museum as part of Affrilachian Artist Project. He is the recipient of a 2016-2017 NC Arts Council Mary B. Regan Artist Residency grant. Barton is co-founder of the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens and serves on the African American Heritage Commission, CoThinkk, and Everybody’s Environment. He is the co-founder of Green Opportunities, a job training program designed to prepare Asheville area youth and adults for “green-collar” careers.
Hood Hugger, definition
A Hood Hugger is anyone who restores themselves while helping to transform their communities for the good of all.
Affrilachia refers to African Americans living in Appalachia. “The term was originally coined by Frank X Walker in reference to the region of Appalachia, a mountain range stretching over thirteen states along the East Coast of the U.S. from Mississippi to New York, Affrilachia is an ever-evolving cultural landscape poised to render the invisible visible. (Source: theaffrilachianpoets.com)