“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.”
“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.”
Who can afford to live here and how can we all live together? Those questions formed the crux of the conversation among Asheville City Council candidates at a Sept. 18 forum where two issues garnered strong and varying viewpoints: the lack of affordable housing and persistent racial tensions in Asheville.
In case you missed them, here are some of Xpress’ most intriguing stories from the week of Sept. 13.
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.
“In that vein, here is my idea for the Vance Monument: Have a local sculptor create a giant hand at the base; fingers folded to create the impression that the obelisk is a raised middle finger.”
” 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.”
Several hundred people assembled at the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville on Sunday evening, Aug. 13, to express opposition to a white nationalist gathering that took place in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
While it didn’t rival the Women’s March on Asheville held in January, the Kid’s Protest march in Asheville on Sunday, Feb. 5, also drew a large and passionate crowd of protesters. Organized by the children of local musician Sparrow Pants, the event gave kids an opportunity to share their concerns about the administration of President Donald Trump and its policies.
“I believe he well deserves our respect and the monument that stands in his honor!”
“I am all for never seeing a Confederate flag again, but we need proper context for our precedents who lived in a world so different from our own.”
“To ignore the positive things that have occurred in our history is an injustice. Sadly, it seems, most people today want to turn everything into a racial issue.”
“What message are we really giving to all of our city residents? That only white people count?”
“Should we change the name of the Lincoln Memorial and the many other buildings and monuments that pay tribute to the great men and women of their time?”
“History should be left alone to be understood and appreciated. It should not be a matter of current approval. Some of us respect Vance.”
“Other U.S. cities are removing Confederate symbology and monuments. Let’s not waste any more time — Asheville needs to join them, now.”