Smoky Mountains -- About Smokies Hikes for Healing: Healing begins with a conversation. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away,
and change doesn’t happen overnight. As our country addresses systemic racism and tries to heal from injustices both past and present, keeping an open dialogue is essential to moving forward. Join Park Superintendent Cassius Cash, the first-ever African American superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in this ongoing discussion on race — all while on the trail in the beautiful Smokies wilderness.
Hear the perspectives of others, share your own experiences and ask important questions in a brave space.
Nobody is perfect. We all have room to learn and grow.
Over the past few months, many Americans are sensing that a change is afoot in how we discuss and confront racism in this country.
The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks have ignited a social justice movement through massive protesting demonstrations in a way that this country hasn’t witnessed since the late 1960s. And because the deaths of these individuals went viral, the issue of racism has captured the attention of millions around the world.
The deaths of these unarmed African Americans have also awakened the curiosity of many white Americans to gain a broader sense of how inequalities stemming from implicit and explicit racism play a role in everyday life. And more importantly—many white Americans are now asking themselves how they are inadvertently contributing to this issue by not assessing their own assumptions on racism.
About Superintendent Cassius Cash
In 2015, Cassius Cash became the first African American superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States.
Previously, he served as the superintendent of Boston National Historical Park and Boston African American National Historic Site.
To learn more about Superintendent Cash, click here.
Because of this, a growing number of people are beginning to see how this imperfection of humanity has inhibited us from being our best. People want to do their part in making racism a condition of the past. And, in order to do that, folks are reading and learning about our collective cultural realities and how they affect every aspect in our lives. They are also learning the important distinction between simply being nonracist versus being intentionally antiracist.
We’ve reached a pivotal time in our country with change-makers hungrily seeking opportunities to be a part of making foundational shifts in how race is perceived in our culture and systems. There are many steps leading toward change, and healing must be a part of the process. The healing begins by bringing people from different races and perspectives together to share truths and to listen for understanding. Through these conversations, relationships can be formed that build a platform for creating change together in communities, organizations, and beyond. The time is now.
The Smokies Hikes for Healing initiative is designed to bring small groups of strangers together for important conversations about racism within the refuge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Participants will hike together, share with each other, reflect on their own experiences, and leave with tools from professional facilitators to better combat racism in all aspects of their lives and in their local communities.
Completing this form will help organizers ensure each Smokies Hikes for Healing event caters to participants from a variety of backgrounds in line with the project’s ultimate goal of fostering greater sharing, understanding, and healing around racism in the Smokies and beyond.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
To give us time to select and notify each team of hikers, please submit your application at least seven days in advance of the hike you wish to attend.
Each hike will be limited to 10 participants and will be no more than four miles round-trip.
The trails selected for these hikes travel among the trees and are in the easy-to-moderate range. Participants will receive more information about the meeting time, trailhead location, trail description and other program details if selected to participate on a hike.