- Associated Press - Sunday, April 7, 2019

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Columbia officials have approved the route of a walking trail to honor the city’s black history.

The Columbia City Council on Monday unanimously approved a plan to complete the African-American Heritage Trail. The 2-mile (3.2 kilometer) trail will commemorate over 30 sites identified as important to the black community, the Columbia Missourian reported.

The project includes 21 historical markers, some of which are already in place.

The trail’s first marker memorializes Sharp End, the historic black business district that was demolished in the 1960s during the city’s urban renewal process. The route will pass other famous spots, such as the home of African-American composer and pianist J.W. “Blind” Boone.

Other sites that have been dedicated include the former Stewart Road bridge, where James T. Scott, a black man, was lynched in 1923 after being accused of sexual assaulting the daughter of a University of Missouri professor. In 2016, the university’s Association of Black Graduate and Professional Students raised money for a plaque in Scott’s memory.

The route will also pass by Third Street Market, one of the few places in the early 1900s where black residents could buy groceries.

Park Services Manager Gabe Huffington said the Sharp End Heritage Committee identified the sites and raised money to cover the cost of the markers. Huffington expects there to be more markers added to the trail.

“One of the things we thought we needed to do was take a look backwards and see what we’ve done in the past,” said James Whitt, chairman of the Sharp End Heritage Committee. “We thought, ‘We need to recognize some of the mistakes we made in the past and some of the accomplishments and some of the contributions that the Sharp End made historically.’”

Whitt called the trail “a real community project, where black, white and all elements of our community have participated.”

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