Confederate monument

Lilly Knoepp

Downtown Sylva has a new addition - a sculpture of Harriet Tubman.  Meet the local woman behind the sculpture. 

The 9-ft bronze sculpture called “Journey to Freedom” sits in Bridge Park.

“Looking at the sculpture, I'm like that’s not my face but those are my hands, those are my feet, that’s my body. Like I am Harriet Tubman too.”

That’s Jada Bryson. She’s a dance teacher in Franklin where her family has lived for as long as they have records. She was dancing at a Macon County Women’s History Trail event when she was approached by Cashiers sculptor Wesley Wofford.

Lilly Knoepp

The Confederate monument known as 'Sylva Sam' is Jackson County now has its updated plaque. 

County commissioners in August voted to change the plaque on the statue outside the old Jackson County courthouse to remove the Confederate flag on it as well the inscription to ‘Our Heroes of the Confederacy.’ 

The changes were completed Monday afternoon, says Commissioner Gayle Woody.  

Lilly Knoepp

Sylva Town Commissioners voted Thursday to reject plans to update the base of Jackson County’s Confederate monument.  ‘Sylva Sam’ sits outside the historic Jackson County courthouse, and county commissioners approved a plan to cover the Confederate Flag on the monument’s base and highlight its 1996 rededication to “veterans of all wars.” The phase, “Our Heroes of the Confederacy will also be covered.

Sylva Town Commissioners have wanted it removed since 2020, which they affirmed with a 3-2 vote again Thursday.  Commissioner Ben Guiney presented the resolution: 

Lilly Knoepp/BPR News

Jackson County Commissioners voted last night to move forward with plans to update the Confederate monument, known as 'Sylva Sam', who sits below the Jackson County Public Library Complex.

County Manager Don Adams shared that the plaque to cover the current Confederate flag on the monument will cost about $14,000 including installation. AOA signs in Yadkinville provided the estimate. 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Demolition of the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville began Monday and will take roughly two weeks to complete.

Lilly Knoepp

Eight months ago, Jackson County Commissioners voted to keep the county’s Confederate monument in Sylva – but with some historical context added to it.   BPR reports on the first glimpse of what the changes will look like:

Asheville City Council voted Tuesday evening to remove the Vance Monument from its spot in the city's main public space, taking away the 65-foot obelisk which has stood in what is now called Pack Square since 1898.

Matt Bush

Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Commissioners both voted to remove the Vance Monument from Pack Square in downtown Asheville.  But where will it go?  

Lilly Knoepp

The base Jackson County’s Confederate monument has been covered.

Photo courtesy of Reconcile 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."

Lilly Knoepp

Jackson County Commissioners voted on Tuesday night to keep the county’s Confederate monument in its place. But the conversation over Sylva Sam is far from over, as evidenced by what happened during and immediately after the vote.

The discussion over removing Sylva Sam from its perch in front of the old county courthouse created at least two new groups - Reconcile Sylva and the Jackson County Unity Coalition.  Both are mostly based on Facebook.  

Many members attended Tuesday’s commissioners meeting which was both virtual and in-person. 

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The Town of Sylva board of commissioners met this morning - in part to discuss the removal of the county’s Confederate monument. However the meeting was cut short after being “zoom bombed.”

 

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Jackson County Commissioners did not to move forward with creating a task force to discuss the fate of a Confederate statue in Sylva.  

At a Tuesday work session, all commissioners could agree on was that something should be done to improve the context of the statue known as “Sylva Sam,” which sits on the steps of the old Jackson County courthouse.

There is a movement to remove the statue, and another group who wants to keep the statue.