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Asheville City Schools Will Rename Vance Elementary

Matt Bush
Blue Ridge Public Radio

Asheville City schools will rename Vance Elementary School in West Asheville.  Superintendent Gene Freeman made the announcement Tuesday at a board of education meeting.

Vance Elementary is named for Zebulon Vance, North Carolina's governor during the Civil War and U.S. Senator during Reconstruction.  The Buncombe County native owned slaves before the war, and fought against civil rights for Black Americans as a senator.  Earlier in June, a press statement from the city school system said Vance's beliefs on racial equity do not match the current beliefs of students, staff, and the community.  It added the school system "would be remiss to the social and emotional well being of children, especially our students of color, if they were to continue to attend a school named after a slave owner."  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system will rename a high school named for Vance. 

The Vance Monument in downtown Asheville's Pack Square is also named for Zebulon Vance.  Both the Asheville City council and Buncombe County board of commissioners approved a resolution in June that would create a task force to determine the 65-foot high obelisk's future while calling for the United Daughters of the Confederacy to remove two other Confederate memorials - a plaque with the likeness of General Robert E. Lee in front of the Vance Monument and a memorial to Confederate soldiers in front of the Buncombe County courthouse.  Both bodies are accepting applications to be on that task force.  The deadline for Buncombe County to apply is July 7th, while for the city of Asheville it's July 10th.  (Click here to apply for Buncombe County, and here for Asheville).   

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.
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