“We cannot in good faith be praised for tourism, gentrification or other tributes to the mostly white recipients of American hospitality and opportunity without showing up in other ways to expunge, however minimally it is possible for a small city to do so, the mistakes — the tragedies — that our deliberate or ignorant behavior as a society keeps compounding year after year after year.”
Last month marked the 400th anniversary of the introduction of slavery to North America, triggering a new round of national soul-searching about human bondage and its complex legacy. And closer to home, Lost Cause-era monuments to Confederate figures at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher also raise significant questions about the country’s troubled history and this region’s place in it.
Beginning this year, various local nonprofits will leverage grants from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to renovate and reconfigure the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, the YMI Cultural Center and the Del Cardo building.
Students and scholars from Asheville, as well as representatives of several religious organizations here, are among those who have traveled to the National Memorial for Peace in Justice in Montgomery. The 6-acre site houses more than 800 monuments the organization has created, each indicating a county where racial terror lynchings occurred, including Buncombe.
2018’s annual joint meeting of Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners highlighted issues of racial equity, police use-of-force and zoning conflicts affecting Buncombe residents.
With the recent removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans and other Southern cities capturing national headlines, local residents, historians and scholars once again turns their eyes to Asheville’s Confederate landmarks and what they symbolize to our community.