African Americans and other residents of the City of Asheville and Buncombe County have issued a clear call to remove the Vance Monument due to the harm it continues to impose on our community.
In June, the Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Board of Commissioners jointly appointed the task force to recommend action regarding the removal or repurposing of the Vance Monument. The task force decision to remove the monument comes at the end of a multi-week, community-led process of historical education, public input, and engagement as named in the joint resolution by the City of Asheville and Buncombe County.
Through the process, more than 600 public comments were received, including those of Noel Nickle. The direct descendant of the Vance family spoke in support of removal and said: “Removing the monument does not erase my family’s legacy, but it does represent a small step toward repairing the harm my family legacy imposed upon this community, which I call home and I deeply love. On behalf of my family, I thank you for your work.”
Letter from the Vance Monument Task Force:
The City of Asheville and Buncombe County would like to thank you for your input on the community discussion to remove, relocate, or repurpose the Vance Monument. The community dialogue began in August and during the 12 weeks we met, the Task Force received more than 600 comments via email, text, and voicemail.
The members of the Vance Monument Task Force read every comment and listened to callers during two virtual town hall meetings. Because you provided feedback, we wanted you to hear from us directly. Tonight, based on the community’s feedback, the Task Force voted to remove the Vance Monument located in downtown Asheville.
“African-Americans and other residents of the City of Asheville and Buncombe County have issued a clear call to remove the Vance Monument due to the harm it continues to impose on our community. By removing the monument, we are joining southern cities across our nation from Richmond to Raleigh to New Orleans to address the symbols that linger from the Civil War and Jim Crow that foster hate and racial terrorism. We want Black residents and visitors to feel welcomed in our downtown. We hope that the removal of the Vance Monument will begin the healing process for the Black and Indigenous individuals in Asheville,” Co-chairs Oralene Simmons and Deborah Miles said.
Implementing racial justice and equity takes more than 12 weeks, and we hope you will continue to engage in this process. The recommendation will now go to the Buncombe County Commissioners and Asheville City Council who will vote to accept the recommendation and determine next steps tentatively in December.
Once again, thank you for your input and engagement. As Wynton Marsalis once said, “We always hear about the rights of democracy, but the major responsibility of it is participation.”
Oralene Simmons and Deborah Miles
Co-Chairs of the Vance Monument Task Force
Buncombe County Commissioners and Asheville City Council will vote in December to determine the next steps for removal logistics and funding sources.
While public comment is now closed, you can access the archive of agendas, minutes, public comments, and recorded meetings at publicinput.com/VanceMonumentTaskForce.