Today, the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau (CACVB) celebrates the national launch of Discover Black Cville.
It is a community-led initiative that helps tell modern, historically accurate, and inclusive Black stories in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, while also promoting Black-owned businesses and attractions. The kick-off includes a mural unveiling at Ix Art Park and a new digital passport to bring travelers to local, Black-owned businesses. With a clear goal to highlight Black stories told by Black people, instead of about Black people, now visitors and locals alike can learn, explore and connect online at Discover Black Cville’s website.
“As an organization we recognized the need for a more open dialogue and we have taken great strides to listen and collaborate with our Black residents,” said Courtney Cacatian, Executive Director of the CACVB. “The tragic events that took place in August 2017 sparked necessary dialogues about systemic racism and propelled our community to take action to support all residents and visitors. The CACVB is working toward more equitable representation in the tourism economy by putting underrepresented voices and businesses first in the narrative. We’re hopeful this work will help visitors of all backgrounds feel more welcome in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. We are extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve in a short time while recognizing that there is certainly more work to be done.”
The idea for Discover Black Cville was born in 2020 and started with a series of collaborative listening sessions in the community. The grassroots effort was met with much enthusiasm and dozens of community members took part in the initial conversations. The CACVB collaborated with local Black residents throughout the process to ensure wide acceptance and input from the community. The ongoing efforts are guided and informed by a steering committee, with members representing different sectors of the local tourism economy.
The CACVB held a soft launch of Discover Black Cville in spring 2021, which was met with resounding positivity. Since then, the impact of Discover Black Cville has been significant among all community members.
“Discover Black Cville highlights a Charlottesville that is often overlooked. Charlottesville is more than a college town. It’s filled with incredible people doing amazing things. Discover Black Cville showcases our culture, bringing the community together and ultimately building real connections,” said Matt Harmon, local winemaker and founder of Harmony Wine. “This initiative is changing the narrative that is associated with Charlottesville. My hope is that it continues to build bridges within the community and beyond our city.”
A new mural will be created by James Johnson and Laura Lee, the same local artists who created the official Discover Black Cville logo. This public art display will be located at Ix Art Park, which is in the heart of the city and in an area that has gone through tremendous transformation. Representing hope for the future, the mural will serve as a reminder of the transformative power of inclusive dialogue.
“Charlottesville is evolving into a place and community that is more hopeful, inclusive and welcoming. We will continue to have community conversations, which will inform the ongoing development of Discover Black Cville,” added Cacatian.
On the day of the mural unveiling, visitors will experience Ix Art Park’s inaugural Black Makers Market, followed by Vibe Fest, an annual celebration of Black music and culture from local and regional performers.
To celebrate and showcase the area’s dozens of Black-owned tourism businesses and attractions, the new Discover Black Cville Digital Passport encourages visitors and locals alike to learn about and visit local businesses in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Available starting March 26, visitors using the passport can check-in at businesses and attractions, using a QR code. After five check-ins, passport participants can go to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center where they can claim their prize, an official Discover Black Cville hat.
For more information about Discover Black Cville, the mural unveiling and festivities on March 26, visit Discover Black Cville’s official website and follow Discover Black Cville’s official Facebook and Instagram accounts @blackcville.