Johnny Baxter Award
In 2019, PSABC partnered with the UNCA History Department to offer an annual award to a student or students furthering the study of African American contributions in Asheville and Buncombe County.
This award was developed in honor of Johnny Baxter, a native Asheville preservationist, historian and founding Board member of PSABC. Mr. Baxter led the efforts to have the YMI Cultural Center listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This summer we are recognizing two students with the Johnny Baxter Award:
Rebecca Kelley is a junior history major who plans to pursue a career in museums or historic preservation. In addition to her interest in local, military, and maritime history, Rebecca also enjoys working with her two horses, gardening, reading and writing novels, knitting, and generally being outdoors.
Tori Rigsby is a native of Buncombe County who also wishes to work in public history. In addition to his love of history, he describes himself as an avid climber, dog dad, plant enthusiast, and fly fisherman.
Tori and Rebecca will take the lead on a project researching the history of Asheville and Buncombe County’s African American cemeteries. They have already helped to conduct headstone surveys in the Shiloh A.M.E. Zion and South Asheville Cemeteries, and they are researching individuals interred in these cemeteries to gather more information about the contributions of African Americans to this area’s economy and society. Their work will lay a foundation for a larger initiative that will help to tell a more inclusive story of Asheville’s history.
Our goal is to grow this program over time, while ensuring its financial security. Please consider making a gift to support the Johnny Baxter Award today and don’t forget to let us know in the comments that your gift is in support of this award. Thank you!
Learn about previous award winners below.
Blaine Lowery is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, majoring in history. While he harbors a deep love for all history, he has a particular interest in the early modern histories of the Germanic and Scandinavian regions. Over the past year he has expanded his interests by interning at the Historic Johnson Farm in Hendersonville, NC. There, Blaine realized a previously undiscovered passion for rural history, a topic he hopes to continue to study. Blaine currently resides in Candler, NC, with his wife, Elisha, and his son, Atlas.
Emily Cadmus is a History major at UNCA and in her junior year. She has recently diverged from a 12-year career as a pastry chef to embark on her journey towards becoming a public historian and anticipates graduating in the fall of 2021. After graduation she intends to complete a master’s program in public history or library sciences. She has special interest in foodways, and the social impact of equitable history.
These students continued the work started by a previous award winner, with a focus on the early stages of developing a digital platform to tell the stories of Asheville’s underrepresented communities.