Create a Monument at Pack Square to Recognize and Honor the Contributions of African Americans to Buncombe County
Dear Asheville Public Art Board,
We the undersigned are writing this letter to urge you to see the upcoming plans to repair and renovate the Vance monument as an excellent opportunity to begin implementing one of the main purposes of the African American Heritage Commission, namely that of lifting up and publicly honoring the largely-unrecognized African American dimensions of shared history.
This is especially significant as the site of the Vance Monument at Pack Square is the same footprint as the first and second Buncombe County Courthouses. It was at this site where enslaved people were sold and had the bills of sale recorded. In addition, enslaved people were punished and imprisoned at this same site yet no marker of any kind acknowledges this or the many contributions African Americans have made to this region.
We are aware that the 26th NC Regiment has initiated a fundraising campaign to repair the Vance Monument. And because such an iconic structure memorializes a major figure in both our local and our state’s history, we support the present efforts to refurbish and maintain it, lest it fall into further disrepair.
At the same time, we are concerned that we, as a community, not continue to perpetuate the long-standing pattern of commemorating only parts of our shared history while ignoring the experiences and contributions of others in our community.
In the past, that pattern has tended to be a source of division rather than of unity; and it is precisely that reality that has provided so much of the motivation for the creation our new African American Heritage Commission.
So our proposal is this: That in conjunction with this major effort to repair and restore the Vance monument, plans be made now to work with the newly created African American Heritage Commission to create in Pack Square an equally-significant monument to recognize the enormous sacrifices of African Americans during the periods of Slavery and Segregation and also to celebrate the many contributions of African Americans to the physical, economic and cultural life of Asheville and Buncombe County since their arrival here in the late 1700s.
The time line of the events related to the geography of Pack Square and the five confederate monuments at or near the Vance Monument include:
1896- Vance Monument on Pack Square dedicated
1905—Chickamauga Monument at Courthouse dedicated
1923—Monuments on Pack Square for the Dixie Highway, in memory of Robert E. Lee, and for Col. McConnell , wounded at Gettysburg, dedicated
1965—Historical marker for the Confederate Armory (operated, in part, on slave labor) dedicated.
This petition has been signed by the following organizations:
Carolina Jews for Justice
Date My City
Masonic Lodge Venus #62
Mountain People's Assembly
UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education
- Center for Diversity Education
Asheville Public Art Board
Create a monument at Pack Square to honor the contributions of African Americans to WNC
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