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The African American Heritage Trail is a two-mile urban trail in the heart of Columbia, Mo. The trail honors local Black people and institutions from the city’s first 200 years.

two cities divided by race

For much of its 200 years, Columbia was two cities divided by race. During most of those decades, Blacks were not allowed to shop in white-owned stores, attend their schools and churches, or receive services from most white professionals such as doctors and lawyers. As a result, “The Other Columbia” materialized. It was largely independent from the rest of the city and was located within about 30 square blocks on the north side of Broadway in central Columbia.

After the conclusion of the American Civil War in 1865, with Columbia mostly segregated, Blacks began building their own businesses and institutions where they worked, shopped and socialized. The African American Heritage Trail is a tour of this historic area, which changed dramatically in the 1960s after a controversial program known as urban renewal eliminated many black-owned homes and enterprises.

The trail includes more than 20 informational markers highlighting people and institutions significant to the city’s history. Completed in 2020, the project was spearheaded by the Sharp End Heritage Committee, in collaboration with Columbia Parks and Recreation, and with financial support from several local businesses and individuals.

redi pays homage to sharp end

REDI’s offices are located on the land once home to Sharp End, the Black business and entertainment district that was demolished during urban renewal. REDI is proud to sponsor two markers along the African American Heritage Trail, one to honor entrepreneur Annie Fisher, and another to honor Clara Miles and the Miles Manor subdivision.
REDI is a public/private partnership committed to creating jobs by attracting new business, supporting existing business, and growing startups in Columbia and Boone County, Missouri.
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