Black and Blue: African Americans and the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, 159 Ginny Stevens Lane


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Rebecca Branson Jones is a musician and filmmaker from North Carolina. She is a graduate of the M.A. Appalachian Studies program at Appalachian State University. Jones worked as an apprentice editor on the 2019 Ken Burns documentary Country Music and is currently working on a documentary series about Mental Health due to air on PBS in 2022.

Dr. Carmen Foster couples her lens as a public historian with expertise in organizational leadership, team development, and facilitation as a consultant and coach for senior executives and next-generation leaders. She earned her doctorate in education from the University of Virginia and holds a master's in public administration from Harvard University. Her dissertation research has examined the experiences of Richmond, Virginia's African American community during school desegregation in the early 1960s. As a child of the civil rights movement, she was one of the first wave of students to desegregate the Richmond school system.

Ajena Cason Rogers is the Supervisory Park Ranger at Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site where she helps visitors connect to the inspiring story of Maggie Lena Walker - businesswoman, community activist, and nationally known African American leader during the Jim Crow-era of segregation. Ajena began her National Park Service career as a seasonal interpreter on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1984 and often feels she “grew up in the Park Service.” In addition to the Parkway and Maggie Walker, she has worked at Booker T. Washington National Monument, Independence National Historical Park, and Valley Forge National Historical Park. At each park site, she found herself drawn to social history ""ripe for the telling,” particularly stories about the African American experience. Ajena enjoys bringing these stories forward for park visitors. She has received several awards and recognition for her interpretive presentations and in 2006 wrote an article for Legacy magazine about the personal side of interpreting the African American experience.