The Sharp End Heritage Committee unveiled six new mile markers for the African American Heritage Trail Wednesday evening in the Blind Boone Home on Fourth Street in Columbia. This event was the first of two unveilings taking place this month.
The markers were funded by local donors and pay tribute to the history of the black community in Columbia. Some of the stories highlighted include those of black business owners, black churches and the first school for black children, dating back 200 years ago.
The first trail marker was dedicated in 2015 to the Sharp End. It’s a block on Walnut Street where all the businesses were owned by black business people until they were displaced in the 1960s. Taking their name from this area, the Sharp End Heritage Committee has worked for more than five years to create this trail, according to chairman James Whitt.
“Before we start looking at growing minority and women-owned businesses in Columbia, we need to go back and look at our history,” Whitt said. “[We are] recognizing the contributions that the Sharp End, and the people and the families that own businesses within that community, mean to Columbia. And we’re able to do that.”
One of the markers recognized Monta’s Chicken and Rib Shack at 205 N. Fifth St owned by Monta K. Ralph in the 1940s and 1950s. Ralph’s granddaughter Monica Naylor says her grandfather was known as the “Barbecue King.
“We grew up kind of in the restaurant right there,” Naylor said. “I remember playing on the floor while he cooked in the back. I am just so excited that the community has done this.”
The next event will take place on Oct. 23 and will feature seven mile markers. The final marker will be ready for installation in spring, completing a two-mile walking trail. The trail will have 20 markers in total.