Asheville City Council votes to remove monument to racist Gov. Zebulon Vance

The Zebulon Vance memorial in downtown Asheville. Photo by Billy Hathorn, used under a Creative Commons license.

 

The City of Asheville will remove a 75-foot monument to Zebulon Vance, the racist Confederate-era North Carolina governor, from the center of its downtown area.

As reported by the Citizen Times newspaper, the council voted 6-1 Monday to remove the controversial statue.

“Personally, I’ve come to believe that the Vance Monument no longer reflects, it probably never reflected, the values of our community,” said Mayor Esther Manheimer.

Vance was governor of North Carolina twice — during the Civil War era from 1862 until his arrest by federal forces in 1865 and again from 1877 to 1879. The state legislature elected him to serve in the U.S. Senate from 1880 to his death in 1894.

He was a slave-owner and avowed racist some historians believe was a leader of the Ku Klux Klan, though he publicly denounced the group. He did famously write that Black people had the “”putrid stream of African barbarism” running through their veins.

A number of North Carolina communities have removed monuments to racist figures and the Confederacy over the last five, part of a national trend. Some more conservative communities continue to refuse to do so, citing a state law protecting such “objects of remembrance” and prohibiting their removal except under very specific circumstances. Some monuments, such as the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument at UNC Chapel-Hill and some in downtown Raleigh, were toppled by protesters when those communities were prevented from legally removing them. In both those cases, the General Assembly declined to have the statues re-erected as prescribed by the monuments law.

 

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