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Charlotte Girl Scout earns top award for map on lost slavery history

The Myers Park High School senior created a walking tour after learning some of the stories of slaves living and working in Uptown.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A local teen has created a map depicting some of the stories of people enslaved in Charlotte that's a way to see the Queen City's streets differently.

Alexia Alexander has a lifetime of badges. She joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy when she was in kindergarten.

Now the Myers Park High School senior is a Girl Scouts Ambassador with just enough room on her uniform for the Gold Award pin. She said, "It's basically compared to the Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouts."

Alexander earned the top recognition after creating a map of sites around Uptown Charlotte where enslaved people lived and worked.

She said she got the idea during her African-American studies class learning about Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. She added that she realized no one knew about slaves in Charlotte. 

For example, she learned Bonaparte the Barber was hired out by his enslaver and cut hair at the Charlotte Hotel.

"It was located approximately at 101 South Tryon where Tupelo Honey sits today," Alexander explained.

She learned nearly 40% of Charlotte's residents were enslaved with much of their activity centering around Trade and Tryon Streets. That includes the statue of John Irwin, a significant figure as one who enslaved many people. 

Where his house once stood is now One Independence Center.

Credit: WCNC

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"They did so much and they sacrificed so much just to help us get to where we are today," Alexander said. "That's what surprised me the most."

Another one of the 18 points of interest on the map is a block down, where the Dunhill Hotel used to be a jail to hold runaway slaves until they were picked up.

Credit: WCNC

It's a rich history that Alexander is sharing with modern day technology, a QR code that connects you to the Google map she created.

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"Being a Girl Scout is getting to do cool things like helping the community, and being able to make the world a better place," she said.

Alexander will be graduating with Honors in June and plans to go to NC State in the fall where she's planning to study Animal Science to become a veterinarian.

Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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