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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

Sue Diehl shared their event on Facebook
Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event

Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion


I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and in our minds, disabling…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Jan 16
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


IntermissionHear audio by clicking mp3 attachment!(Part of poem, "Coalescence") I thought I might take a break at this point to look around,Now that I’m in the business of making things resound.It’s so nice to have the luxury of being carefree. If you stop and sit back and try to take in everything,It stuns you and you can’t focus on anythingUntil something crops up, and what…See More
Jan 16
Joan Henehan replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Coalescence
"It's an odyssey..."
Jan 8
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


The Main Show: A Story Poem Cycle(formerly, Coalescence) (part of  Living Poem)The Main Show  Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and…See More
Dec 11, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Sultan's Dream

The Sultan’s Dream (Part of Living Poem) When it comes to walking, the jig’s up.No more fit lad sitting at the pub.No more flim-flam smiling with a limp. See how the legs totter and the torso leans.Do you know what a lame sultan dreams?Of reclining on a divan wearing pantaloons, Comparing his plight to a mountaineer’sNegotiating an icy bluff in a fierce wind,And then lounging in a tent to unwind. Which…See More
Nov 15, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Tale of Ononis

The Tale of Ononis by Rob Neufeld Part 1: The Making of a Celebrity ❧  Hare Begins His Tale  Ononis was my region’s name.People now call it Never-the-same.I’ll start with the day a delivery came. The package I got was a devil’s dare,Swaddled and knotted in Swamp Bloat hairAnd bearing, in red, one word: “Beware!” Bloats are creatures from the Land of Mud Pies,Wallowing in waste with tightly closed eyesUntil fears bring tears and the bleary bloats rise.   ❧  Hare’s Colleagues  I asked my boss,…See More
Nov 9, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Drop Your Troubles: A Solo Storytelling Performance with Connie Regan-Blake at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

December 1, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join this internationally renowned storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she transforms a packed theater into an intimate circle of friends with old-timey charm, wisdom, and humor. We’ll also welcome the Singer of  Stories, Donna Marie Todd, who will perform her original story, “The Amazing Zicafoose Sisters.” Connie’s last two shows at BMCA have sold…See More
Nov 6, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” The event will be hosted by the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, just a short drive from Asheville nestled in the picturesque mountains surrounding the area. Call the Center for advance tickets (828) 669-0930 or order…See More
Oct 28, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive, affirming…See More
Oct 28, 2018

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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