Take It Down, UNCA: Remove the Name of Confederate General Vance
This petition had 494 supporters
This petition is addressed to the sitting members of the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees.
We urge, for hopefully the last time, that the representatives of this university not commit the crime of indifference. We hope you will give us your actions, not just your words. While symbolic motions of solidarity are needed and appreciated, we need proof that there exists a true desire to end this tradition of racial violence. To do that, we must stop raising the names and symbols that nurture its existence. By adding our signature to this petition, we stand by the belief that this public institution must sever any attachment to a general who fought on the side of enslavement. In the wake of South Carolina’s refusal to either remove or even lower their confederate flag, after yet another senseless act of racist violence, we ask this university to represent a step towards progress and redemption. We again implore you to replace the name of Governor Zebulon Vance, Confederate general,on the UNC Asheville police station.
The last time UNC Asheville students approached the Board about this topic, they were sent away with arguments about “history” and “heritage”. They were told it was better to keep the memory of Vance, and consequently, chattel slavery. They saw no reason to replace it with the name of UNC Asheville’s first Black student who opened the doors for equal access to higher education, something North Carolina often prides itself on. And we must fully ask if the Board's action are representative of these views.
To take down Vance’s name and replace it with an African American figure of resilience would still allow us to remember the horrors of the antebellum era. However, it reminds us, even when this nation seems it has hit the worst of times, we are constantly charging towards the final defeat of injustice. These are the individuals that students should be reminded of daily. We wish to not see the names that remind us of the consequences of white supremacy as it continues to leave a path of pain and inequality. Instead, we want to immortalize the names of those who have tirelessly worked to show, in the end, intolerance can be defeated.
Nobody is denying that racism does not have its place in American history. We do not mean to undermine that chapter in Black struggle. However, it is a favor to no one to commemorate the injustice of history, instead of triumphs over it. Why must we honor racial violence instead of racial progress? A public institution should not make history about remembering only the individuals who caused incomprehensible destruction. Instead, let us take inspiration from victims who became victors; these are the people history should remember. There is no need to base a historical identity on the officers of violence; not when America has so many fighters for peace.
To the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees, please be a moving force of progressivism. Be a reminder that we define ourselves by more than a heritage of hate. We again ask for 1) the removal of [Vance’s] name from the UNC Asheville police station and 2)a vote held by UNC Asheville students to choose a prominent figure of racial progress that will replace the memory of Vance’s violence against his fellow Americans. We believe that our Board of Trustees would not teach us to remember our worst, but to be inspired in a pursuit for better.
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