Western North Carolina is grappling with a controversial part of its history: monuments erected in commemoration of Confederate figures. In May, after months of debate and consideration by a specially appointed task force, Asheville began removing the Vance Monument, an obelisk honoring the late Confederate military officer and former Gov. Zebulon Baird Vance. And in […]
“Let’s put these historical representatives in museums where they belong so that generations to follow can learn from our folly.”
“We need to cease extolling false narratives, ignoring past transgressions and defending those who championed one of humanity’s most deplorable institutions.”
“Turns out there was this effort about 30 years after the war … to propagandize to the youth in schools and erect all of these Confederate statues and monuments to sort of rewrite history, painting the South as fallen victims of big government oppression.”
“Appropriate remembrance of its ravages through the centuries should evoke reflection on human evil, not honor its perpetrators.”
“Perhaps our Confederate monuments need to be replaced with monuments representing the horror and evil of slavery while also honoring the Black families.”
“Their existence represents a teachable moment to future generations of the evil of slavery. However, these statues are not really all about slavery, they are about the history of our nation.”
Vance, Patton, Woodfin, Henderson, Weaver, Chunn, Baird — their names are familiar to anyone living in Asheville and Buncombe County today. All were wealthy and influential civic leaders. They were also major slaveholders or slave traders and white supremacists.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners remained divided along partisan lines. Chair Brownie Newman and his three Democratic colleagues voted for the removal of Confederate monuments at Pack Square Park and the county courthouse, as well as establishing a task force on the Vance Monument, while Republicans Joe Belcher, Anthony Penland and Robert Pressley voted against those moves.
Data from the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority shows that just 1,210 people boarded a plane at the airport in April, the latest month for which information is available. That number marks a 98% decrease from the 61,230 enplanements reported in April 2019.
Asheville City Council unanimously adopted a joint resolution with Buncombe County to remove two Confederate monuments at the Buncombe County Courthouse and in Pack Square Park. The resolution also convenes a task force to further explore the removal or repurposing of the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville.
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.