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.
“Suddenly, we will have two monuments to consider: the steel lynching monument and Vance’s.”
“Now, people like Cox, by her writings and lectures, have incited individuals to do such things as to deface the plaque to Gen. Robert E. Lee at the Vance Monument.”
On Saturday, May 19, historian Karen Cox will present “Confederate Monuments in the Jim Crow South” in the Lord Auditorium at Pack Memorial Library.
“For years now, Americans have engaged in culture wars, typically over gay rights, abortion, feminism, an imperiled Christianity, bathrooms and Confederate monuments, all perhaps as contrived as the ‘winners,’ usually declared to be ‘leftists’ and ‘lie-braes,’ and ‘losers,’ the poor victimized ‘right and righteous.'”
“First off, let’s agree that anybody with an ounce of decency must feel a bit embarrassed that Asheville has given its top award for excellence to a man like Zebulon Baird Vance.”
Pack Square lies at the center of Asheville’s sense of itself as a city, but recent attention to the area — and the monuments to Confederate figures located there — has highlighted a curious anomaly of history and law: No one can say for sure who owns the piece of land where the Vance Monument sits.
Asheville City Council passed a resolution condemning the actions of white supremacists and racial violence in Charlottesville earlier this month. Council members also resolved to support the designation of Big Ivy as a wilderness area, and voted to move forward with a phased approach to a greenway along Lyman Street to Amboy Road. A proposal to reduce the minimum width of residential lots by 20 percent citywide was sent back to the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission for further study.
“We should not be afraid to talk. And we should not cherry-pick Confederate monuments to tear down so that we may pat ourselves on the back and say, ‘Yay, I just ended white supremacy.'”
“There is a difference between memory and celebration, and most Confederate monuments are less about memory and more about the celebration of white supremacist control.”
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.