FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The NWA Black Heritage Association works to preserve and honor Black history throughout the region.

Co-founder of NWA Black Heritage Sharon Killian said the group is trying to put Black history at the forefront.

“The reason Fayetteville has a history of Black communities, however erased, is that we were run out of everywhere else, we were forcibly removed,” Killian said.

Board member and Director of African and African American Studies at the University of Arkansas, Caree Banton, said they’re working to bring light to stories of African Americans that called Northwest Arkansas home over the years.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to this kind of a history so that people have been here since slavery,” Banton said.

Killian said Black history is being erased in Northwest Arkansas, take for example the Jefferson Elementary School in Fayetteville.

“We were then allowed to attend in 1965 and became actually the primary school for Black kids. It belongs to the community,” Killian said.

Fayetteville Public Schools owned the building and recently sold it to a different local nonprofit. Killian said NWA Black Heritage put in an offer to buy the property for $1 to turn it into a historical and cultural corridor.

“We offered to create, to make change in this whole entire region would have been the beginning of the reflection of this Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that everybody is talking about,” Killian said.

Banton said the association will continue to bring awareness to Black history that exists all around the region.

“Whether it’s the first African American who attended this university when it was first founded before Silas Hunt and then Silas Hunt, and his colleagues that then later came in,” Banton said.

You can read more about NWA Black Heritage and its mission here.