In the area of diversity in hiring, Asheville is just as segregated, racist and unequal as it ever was, and while whites promote Asheville as a tourist and artistic mecca, African Americans are still cleaning rooms in expensive hotels instead of front desk or management positions and not being hired in banks, restaurants and trendy bars in downtown, Biltmore and West Asheville.
Don’t believe the hype; I regret that because of family illnesses and death, I had to return here and see this economic apartheid and old-school segregation. Asheville’s so-called progressives don’t see it, or if they do, they do not admit or say anything or work to change it. You Can’t Go Home Again.
— Johnny Penley
Editor’s note: For more on Asheville’s history, Penley included a link to an oral history interview with him and his father, James Etheridge “Jim” Penley, who died Sept. 1, conducted in 2018 through the North Carolina Room at Pack Library: avl.mx/6uj