Category Archives: News

DeWayne Barton Honored

DeWayne Barton was given an award for his community service by the UNC Asheville History Department on October 27 at the Third Annual African Americans in WNC conference.

Dr. Darin Waters with DeWayne Barton at the African Americans in WNC Conference
Dr. Darin Waters with DeWayne Barton at the African Americans in WNC Conference

DeWayne Barton Awarded Mary B. Regan Artist Residency

north-carolina-arts-councilWe are excited to announce that the North Carolina Arts Council has awarded DeWayne a Mary B. Regan Community Artist Residency, a grant designed to support innovative artist-in-residence projects in communities in North Carolina. The award was conceived to honor Mary’s long-held beliefs in the importance of the contributions of artists and the transformative potential of creativity to community life. He will be using the grant to renovate the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens, adding a performance space and more. He will also use the grant to provide seed money to support art-related projects around the city.


Burton Street Agricultural Fair


Burton Street Agricultural Fair
Saturday, September 17, 1 – 8 pm
Burton Street Community Center

The Burton Street Agricultural Fair is organized by the Burton Street Community Association and Staff, and highlights the history and contributions of E.W. Pearson and other important community leaders. This free event includes music, art, food and children’s activities.

The spirit of the Burton Street Agriculture Fair is it’s a “People’s Fair” and this year, the Burton Street Community Association will collaborate with RiverLink, Asheville Design Center, Mountain True, Asheville Greenworks and Wildlands Engineering to present information on an on-going watershed planning and restoration in Smith Mill Creek, as well as the future vision for the stream corridor adjacent to the neighborhood, as conceived by the Burton Street Community. Printed materials, staff & volunteers will be available to facilitate discussion and answer questions pertaining to watershed, greenway, and other planning initiatives.


E.W. Pearson and his daughter Annette at the 1945 fair.


Goombay Art Show & Festival

Goombay Art Show
Curated by Hood Huggers International
Thursday, September 8, 7 – 9 pm
YMI Cultural Center, 39 S. Market St.

Featured artists are Jenny Pickens, Joesph Pearson, Valeria Watson, Thomas Davis, Victor Palamino, and Chris Corral.

Goombay Festival
Hood Tours will be available from the festival at 6 pm on Friday, and 10 am and 6 pm on Saturday. Meet the van in Pack Square near Biltmore Avenue. Click here to buy tickets in advance.


Visit for more information.

Kind Words About Hood Tours

“UNC Asheville faculty and staff took a Hood Tour with DeWayne Barton today – to rave reviews. DeWayne’s leadership and vision shine through as he shares the stories of the African American community that has MADE Asheville home for over 200 years.

Hood Tours begins at Stephens-Lee Recreation Center then takes a drive past historic neighborhoods, houses of worship, and dearly loved institutions. The UNC Asheville folks saw the community through a whole different lens – you will too.

Everyone needs to go on this tour – non-profit leaders, board members, business owners, newcomers, old timers, white people, black people, all people, teachers, law enforcement folks……… EVERYONE.

Thank you DeWayne for opening our eyes to see so many more ways to love and appreciate Asheville – with the bitter and sweet. Thank you for showing us resiliency in the face of generations of extreme hardship and deep family and community ties.”

From the Center for Diversity Education at UNCA Asheville




Summer 2016 Overview

Summer 2016 Overview
Current & Pending Projects

HoodHuggersHood Huggers International implements the Pearson Plan, offering 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.

Who We Serve: The Hood Huggers’ Pearson Plan uses a comprehensive, collaborative approach, working with individuals in historically African-American neighborhoods to build internal systems of support and capacity. We also work with organizations and individuals with resources, providing guidance on how to serve in ways that have a greater impact. Our work with these internal (community) and external (service providers) systems creates a new paradigm where communities determine what resources they need and want, and guide how the programs that serve them function.  

The Arts:

  • Hood Tours is an interactive tour of the history, present, and future of Asheville’s historically African-American neighborhoods. Tours incorporate poetry and music and highlight public art, artists, and cultural heritage assets in these neighborhoods.
  • Partnerships with established regional festivals (Goombay and LEAF) are helping provide increased capacity to neighborhood-based events and community celebrations.
  • We are collaborating with Organic Synergy and Asheville Music Professionals on the Inside/Out performing arts workshop to help create a pipeline for careers in the entertainment business for neighborhood-based talents.
  • We are working with the African American Heritage Commission and Green Opportunities on a plan to build and place historical markers throughout the community.
  • Our plan includes working with arts organizations on neighborhood-based public art.
  • Through these efforts we are creating platforms for creative expression and pride. The arts contribute to community healing.

Social Enterprise:

  • Hood Tours is a social enterprise that creates opportunities for young people and supports small businesses, helping to spark more grassroots economic development.
  • Hood Tours provides a model for other businesses to learn from.
  • We maintain and distribute the Hood Huggers Green Book, a directory of African-American led organizations and businesses.
  • Another key initiative is the development of a financial literacy program and youth-led credit unions in partnership with Self-Help Credit Union, IRL, City of Asheville, community members and parents. Students will develop basic financial management skills and tap into a pipeline for careers in finance or entrepreneurship.
  • We work to connect existing youth programs with each other and with businesses and volunteers in our target neighborhoods, providing a platform for youth skill-building and mentorship.
  • The Pearson Plan includes building relationships with service providers to offer these communities better access to training opportunities and other support.

The Environment:

  • Hood Tours highlights neighborhood green spaces and community gardens.
  • Establish additional green spaces to help strengthen community connections to nature.
  • We are partnering with Everybody’s Environment to support the creation of a pipeline for African-American youth to pursue careers in the environmental field.
  • Member of the Urban Agriculture Alliance, an alliance supporting urban agriculture initiatives to address root causes of poverty, injustice, and inequity within the local food system while utilizing a collective impact framework.
  • Member of the I-26 ConnectUs Project.

Want to Engage with Hood Huggers?

Join our email list for updates and event announcements.

  • Take a Hood Tour or two (different options available).
  • Encourage others to take Hood Tours.
  • List your black-owned business in the Green Book.
  • Support the businesses and organizations in the Green Book.
  • Rent the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens for an event.
  • Take the Pearson Plan class which starts on September 21.
  • Have other ideas? Let’s talk!
DeWayne Barton talking with My Community Matters summer campers.