The Asheville City Council has made a decision. The Vance Monument will be demolished and removed.
At times, controversial monuments, like festering wounds, cause an amount of pain that overwhelms any historical value.
With this decision, the council has made a strong statement against the acceptance of white supremacy in our community.
We are now at a critical phase. The community must look to the future.
Controversial monuments create complicated issues that require careful consideration and proactive solutions in order to shape that future.
I agreed with Councilwoman Sandra Kilgore when she stated: “Unless we start working on healing, working together, uniting the community, all of our programs will be futile.”
Councilwoman Kilgore knows that divisiveness is not productive and is also concerned about possible retaliatory actions from white supremacy groups.
What concerns me even more is the possibility of a “racial amnesia” enabled by the disappearance of reminders of the lessons we have learned and the goals we must strive to achieve.
The purpose of studying history is to keep the mistakes of the past from being repeated. When reminders of the past are gone, we may forget the lessons we have learned.
Perhaps with a creative compromise, the past and future can be forged together for healing. Could the materials of the Vance Monument be incorporated into a new public monument? Seventy-five feet of granite is a lot of stone. I can envision a circular granite bench within to enclose community activities, but the possibilities are endless.
Information about the design concept behind the repurposing of the materials would be important toward conveying the positive message.
Asheville has been gifted with an enormous amount of creative talent. The arts are powerful, and I am a firm believer in the potential for healing and education through creative expression.
— Karen Burt Coker