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Black Lives Matter Billboard Erected In Jackson County

Photo courtesy of Reconcile Sylva
The pair of billboards is located on U.S. 441 near Savannah on the way to Sylva.

“Black Lives Matter, Confederate Statues Don’t,” proclaims one of the new billboards located in the Savannah on U.S. 441. These billboards are the next move in the current discussion around the county's Confederate statue, known as "Sylva Sam."

Reconcile Sylva, the Jackson County group which wants to remove the county's Confederate monument, says in a press release that the billboards are "intended to bring attention to both the monument and the need for the community to address racism."

The second billboard reads, “Dear Community: Have You Talked To Your Children About Racism?”

At the end of July, the Town of Sylva board of commissioners voted for a resolution asking that Jackson County Commissioners remove the Confederate monument from the town limits where it currently sits below the Jackson County Public Library Complex, known as the Old Courthouse.

At their August 4 meeting, Jackson County Commissioners denied the resolution and voted to keep the monument in its current location with a few changes: the Confederate flag on its base will be removed along with lettering 'Our Heroes of the Confederacy.' In its place there will be a historical plaque explaining Jackson County’s role in the Civil War.

The sign reads,"This area is closed to the public until further notice."

Before the decision was finalized, residents from both sides of the issue rushed to the site of the Confederate monument. The Sylva Police Department and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office separated the groups and blocked off access to the monument. The staircase around the monument remains off limits at this time.

Reconcile Sylva members have continued to protest daily near the monument and say that they have not given up on the relocation of the monument. 

The group says that they originally planned to have the billboard's located between Dillsboro and Sylva on Business 23 but the design was rejected by Jackson County. Those billboards are leased by the county from Allison Outdoors, a group that has been previously been involved in its own billboard controversary.

The billboards were installed on August 13 will remain in place for several weeks, according to the group. 

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.