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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.



Latest Activity

Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Nancy Sutton replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Metamorphoses
"Poignant in so many ways!   "
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


Metamorphoses (Part of Living Poem)Hear audio: Metamorphoses%20181004_0192.MP3 So Apollo committed the first rape.He’d come back from exterminating Python,The Bane of Humanity, now his arrow-victim,And stopped to mock…See More
Oct 2
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

First Drumbeat

First Drumbeat(Part of Living Poem) The time has come.Call it a drum,Or a crumb,What’s left of life. I used to tell a jokeWhen my life was wide,And I was a stud,And not a dud—I knowI’m not a dud.  I’m a dude,A dad.  But everyone mustRebut the dud chargeAt summing up time. Oh yeah, the joke,A trademark one for meIn that it’s not funny. I used to say I’ll never retireFrom writingBecause if I’m ever…See More
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks for the prompt, Joan!  I have attached the whole work in progress as a doc at the bottom of the table of contents page:"
Sep 22
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Is there a way from this website to print everything or might you send me such a document to"
Sep 22
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at Marion Branch McDowell County Public Library

October 24, 2018 from 4pm to 5pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be launching her new poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes (Finishing Line Press, 2018) at a book presentation and signing to be held at the McDowell County Public Library in Marion on October 24.See More
Sep 21
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"This could be interesting--thanks!  I'm at 828-505-1973 (my home business office).  And"
Sep 20
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"I'll ask the kids, Barb and Ethan, if they have any contacts who might have an interest in this as a unique topic for any performers they know. It might also be something that my friend Ruby Lerner could brainstorm about to her theatre…"
Sep 19
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks much, Joan!  I'm trying to get some attention for these poems.  Triple Whammy is def in rap style.  And the beat goes on.  Hugs from me and Bev."
Sep 19
Joan Henehan posted a discussion

on Reading Living Poem

You might be the first ALS-subject-matter rapper. Add some beats and spread it. the time is now...See More
Sep 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

More from the World of ALS

More from the World of ALS (Part of Living Poem)    Negotiating steps is like someone who seeksTo emulate a goat on mountain peaks. Crossing a threshold, limping inIs like the valley-walking of an Olympian. A cane and its grip make a fellow stopTo consider the physics of leans and drops. To know how a forefinger grabs and digsImagine your digits are chestnut twigs When a new drug trial notably…See More
Sep 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a discussion


RANDALL KENAN SELECTS NANCY WERKING POLING WINNER OF THE 2018 ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE(31 August 2018)Nancy Werking Poling of Black Mountain is the winner of the 2018 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition for "Leander’s Lies." Poling will receive $1000 from the North Carolina Literary Review, thanks to a generous NCLR reader’s donation that allowed this year’s honorarium to increase (from the previous award of $250). Her winning essay will be published in the North…See More
Sep 4
Rob Neufeld shared their discussion on Facebook
Sep 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Upcoming Rides

Upcoming Rides(Part of Living Poem) I must take a break from writing aboutThe third Lord Granville’s loss of landIn colonial North Carolina to noteI’m losing functionality in my hands. I’m confining my writing to a four-line,Alternate rhyme form, like a horse-fenceFraming a pantomimeOf equine force.  Hence, It’s time to imagine the power of mind,For instance, when a nod or thoughtInstructs a machine to…See More
Aug 26

Vance Monument and the honoring of African American history

What’s in a monument—a complex view

by Rob Neufeld

PHOTO CAPTION: Vance Monument and 6th County Courthouse, c. 1900

           History has become a subject of special interest with proposals surrounding the renovation of the Vance monument.

            A petition now put forward by the UNCA Center for Diversity Education and other groups moves that an African American monument be placed in Pack Square, perhaps near the prominent 117-year-old obelisk. 

            The dedication date for the Vance monument had been Feb. 25, 1898 (four months after ground-breaking), not 1896, as is often reported.  The idea came up in 1896 when George Willis Pack offered the county a courthouse site with the stipulation that the land in front of it would be a park with a monument to Vance.

            “It was at this site,” the petition states, referring to pre-Pack Square days, “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.”

            The first reference in the petition is to slave history, suggesting the need for a corrective to memorials to slave-owners, such as Vance.

            “After 1898,” Dr. Darin Waters, a black heritage spokesperson says, “there was this effort to create monuments to a white supremacist past, because you wanted to create a certain message.”

            Mentioned second in the petition are African American contributions.

            If Asheville were to memorialize African American contributions, there are several sites that might accomplish that in a noteworthy way, and in a way that would contribute materially to African American life.

For one model, we look to Atlanta.


Comparisons and perspective


            Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is located in the Old Fourth Ward, a century-old African American neighborhood, which includes Dr. King’s birthplace and Sweet Auburn, a thriving black business district.  It receives about 600,000 visitors a year.

            There are economic and tangible aspects to Atlanta’s celebration of its black heritage.

            The average median household income for black residents in metropolitan Atlanta is $41,047 compared to $33,632 for the nation—and in Asheville, $19,889, according to the American Fact Finder data base of the U.S. Census.  (The median income for white households in Asheville is $47,120.)

            One quarter of the businesses in Atlanta are African American-owned; in Asheville, it’s 2.9%.  Comparing those numbers to the populations, one could say that

            Atlanta is three-and-a-half times as successful as Asheville in nurturing a black middle class.

            Should monuments, sites, and commemoratives go along with actual progress?  Can a monument kickstart such progress?  Or, is a symbol important enough by itself?


Choosing legacies


PHOTO CAPTION: Zebulon Baird Vance, c. 1875, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Brady-Handy Photograph Collection


            Zebulon Vance, Buncombe County-born state governor and U.S. senator, opposed civil rights for African Americans during Reconstruction. 

            Campaigning for fellow Democrats, he took positions that became familiar in the South: on the one hand, underscoring  and condemning what he and many white voters considered the radical policies of Republicans, who favored empowering (but not integrating with) African Americans; and on the other hand, coming out strongly against white racial violence.

            In contrast, Vance’s positions on civil rights in other matters were progressive.

            When the Confederacy implemented its military drafts, and convicted and punished evaders without the protection of habeas corpus, Vance, as governor, stood up to the violation of states’ as well as individual rights with more than just verbal resistance.

            In May, 1863, he sent a squad of militia soldiers to get John W. Irvin out of a conscription camp prison after Irvin had not been allowed to use the exemption he’d been granted previously.  The draft age had been raised, and Irvin’s substitute was no longer substitute material; he was draftable. 

            Vance put North Carolina law above Confederate war office proclamations, and said he would continue “to resist any such arrest upon the part of any person, not authorized by the legal order or process of a Court or Judge having jurisdiction of such cases.”

            While Vance stood up against Confederate infringements of and slights against North Carolinians, his state, he told Jefferson Davis, was still the top provider of soldiers and clothing to the army—in a fight that Vance had opposed until President Lincoln had called for troops to put down South Carolina.




            In 1874, while Vance was opposing African American rights, he was championing Jewish people “at a time when anti-Semitism was on the rise in Europe and America,” Gordon McKinney writes in his 2004 biography, “Zeb Vance.”

            “Let us judge the Jew as we judge other men—by his merits,” Vance asserted in his famous lecture, “The Scattered Nation.”  “And above all,” he continued, “let us cease the abominable injustice of holding the class responsible for the sins of the individual.”

            In lectures he gave in the North after the Civil War, he upbraided his audiences for thinking that a majority of Southerners were in favor of slavery; for imposing penalties upon citizens who were following their government and defending their homeland; and for hypocrisy.

            “Boston and Providence slavers,” Vance told a Boston audience in 1886, “vexed the seas in their ungodly search for kidnapped Africans to be bought in exchange for New England rum and sold to Southern plantations...We only bought your wares.”

            The fundraising effort that the Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th Regiment N.C. Troops has spearheaded to prevent deterioration of the Vance Monument refers to his serving as a Colonel of the 26th, and also to his remarkable rise from Reems Creek boyhood to a powerful representative of his people.  His sense of humor, down-to-earth relations with all classes, love of his wife, scholarship, and oratory are a large part of his legacy.

            So is his conformity to beliefs about white supremacy, which should show us how we all are vulnerable to the popular madnesses and rationalized sins of our times; not how we are better than our forebears.

            Pack Square may be the best place for a monument to African Americans, but not because it makes a statement against another monument.  And there are other sites and factors to consider, including who the monument is for.

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