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Members Of Vance Monument Task Force Announced

Matt Bush
Blue Ridge Public Radio
The Vance Monument in downtown Asheville was shrouded last month

The 12 members of the task force that will determine the future of the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville have been chosen.  By the end of the year, the task force is scheduled to determine whether to the remove the 65-foot obelisk from Pack Square and relocate it, or leave it in place and repurpose or recontextualize it.

Both the Asheville city council and Buncombe County board of commissioners appointed six members apiece to the task force, with two alternates.  Buncombe commissioners announced their choices Tuesday, while Asheville city council did so last week.  The task force was created when both bodies in June voted to remove two Confederate monuments in downtown - a marker with the likeness of General Robert E. Lee that was in front of the Vance Monument, and a memorial to Confederate soldiers that stood in front of the Buncombe County courthouse.  Both were removed in July as they are privately owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and therefore according to supporters not subject to a 2015 North Carolina law that says monuments on public grounds can only be removed if they are moved to an area of 'similar prominence.'  The Vance Monument does fall under that law. 

After a week of protests calling for racial justice in Pack Square following the death of George Floyd, the group Black AVL Demands called for the removal of the monument.  It's named for Zebulon Vance, North Carolina's Governor during the Civil War and U.S. Senator during Reconstruction.  Vance owned enslaved people before the war, and fought against full civil rights for Black Americans after it.

Buncombe County board of commissioners appointees (announced August 4th) -

David King

Carmen Ramos Kennedy

Esi Hutchinson

Katherin Calhoun Cutshall

Ben Scales

Elizabeth Harper

Dennis Fagnant*

Andrea Olson*

Asheville city council appointees (announced July 28th) -

Antanette Mosley

Deborah Miles

Bernard Oliphant

Savannah Gibson

Oralene Simmons

Shirley Whitesides

Lawrence Gilliam*

Ben Scales*

(*= alternates)

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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