“The irony that the supporters of the Lost Cause claim to oppose the rewriting of history is that in many cases, they were the ones who rewrote that history.”
“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.”
From textbooks to newspapers, from monuments to public orations, the Lost Cause narrative sought to present the Confederates’ wartime efforts, not as one of defeat, but heroism in the face of great odds. The campaign also aimed to reimagine slavery as both a benign and beneficial institution.
“I would imagine the North Carolinians who lived with generations of deprivation would have a very different opinion about what that flag represents. All that suffering for an anachronistic economic system that was already unsustainable as the world headed toward the 20th century.”
“If we remove the Vance name and plaque, we will dispose of all positive and negative connotations imposed upon it. We will reduce it to its purest form — an obelisk of stone, sun and shadow. Now the monument is free.”
” I think we should put out a request for proposals from artists and community members, and create a panel of local activists, artists and historians to assess them. Get the new equity manager involved. Something fitting and beautiful will come out of that.”
“Tolerating monuments such as the Vance obelisk teaches young people that the ownership of slaves was not important and certainly nothing to be considered shameful. But it is important and it is shameful, particularly in Asheville, where the ideal of social equality is so widely embraced.”
“Finally, if we are to remember our history as it actually happened, we need to place equally large monuments for those who suffered generations of brutal enslavement near every Confederate monument.”
“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.'”
“The monument is directly on the site of the old courthouse where the slave auctions were held. It is the exact location where blacks were sold into bondage. It has always been apparent to me, and yet I have never heard one person suggest it, that the monument be rededicated to them.”
“I’d like to end on a less scholarly note … by quoting Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary in Australia: ‘If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we?'”
A remembrance at Vance Monument was organized to honor the 150th anniversary of the freeing of slaves in Asheville, just steps away from where black men and women were sold as goods, on the steps of the Courthouse in a different era. The remembrance was co-sponsored by Date My City and the UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education.
“As a transplanted Northerner, I have always been amazed that the South wants to glorify its past Confederate history while being so quick to overlook its true history, both past and present, of violence, hate, impoverishment and economic and chattel slavery of people. “
A revitalized volunteer push is underway to rescue Western North Carolina’s oldest known African-American cemetery from the ravages of neglect and obscurity. The effort includes a new website that features an interactive map of the cemetery and a digital guide to each of its graves.
America continues to have a difficult time facing its past, especially when this requires taking an in-depth look at slavery. Slavery does not comport with our claims about our founding ideals. Thus, when memorializing the past, Americans are more comfortable with images that don’t glaringly highlight the country’s hypocrisy.
Nearly 150 years after the end of the Civil War, one of the era’s most important historical documents was displayed in Western North Carolina for the first time ever.
In Buncombe County, thousands of slaves toiled as cooks, farmers, tour guides, maids, blacksmiths, tailors, miners, farmers, road builders and more, local records show. And after mostly ignoring that troubled history for a century and a half, the county is now taking groundbreaking steps to honor the contributions of those former residents by making its slave records readily available online.
The Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office has opened an exhibit to commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and to remember those who were enslaved and their immeasurable contributions to our community. Along with the exhibit, the county has produced a short documentary, Forever Free, which features historians and descendants of slaves speaking on the significance of these records and the importance of acknowledging our past. Watch it here.