Reparations, Six Months Later: So Far, Empty Promises

By Barbara Durr and Peter H. Lewis • Asheville Watchdog | Six months ago, as part of a reckoning on racial injustice, the City of Asheville and Buncombe County both passed resolutions to consider reparations to the Black community as a way to begin making amends for slavery and generations of systemic discrimination. The votes were hailed as “historic” by The Asheville Citizen Times, and ABC News asked, “Is Asheville a national model?”

Rehearsal studio opens in historic former Asheville motel

An internationally beloved musician, Claude Coleman, Jr. would often find himself in Asheville while on tour drumming with his band, iconic rock juggernaut Ween. Each time wandering through, he would become more enamored with this region. So much so, Coleman relocated here from New Jersey in 2012. 

Moment to shine: Outdoor economy conference focuses on widening the base

In the wake of COVID-19, 2020 has been a banner year for the outdoor recreation economy, and throughout the month of October the third annual Outdoor Economy Conference focused its lens on making the most of this moment. 

“What we have to do as an industry, and as an outdoor economy, as a region, is to not lose that — don’t miss that opportunity,” said conference organizer Noah Wilson, director of sector development for Mountain BizWorks. “That was that was definitely an intentional theme of the conference.”

Suffrage was slow for Black voters

When the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, women throughout the nation began to vote for the first time. But for a long time, the rights granted in that amendment were realized mainly by white women. 

“Our ancestors, our forefathers, they were hurt because they had fought for suffrage too for the 19th Amendment, and it didn’t really do any good,” said Ellerna Forney, a Sylva native who is Black. “But they still kept fighting.”

Who is your neighbor? Being Black in Waynesville

By Brandi Hinnant-Crawford • Guest Columnist | In 2014, on my 30th birthday, I got a call from my former department head offering me a job at Western Carolina University. I was ecstatic; I was going home. Upstate New York winters are not kind to girls raised in the south (aka GRITS), and the Old North State is the state I love more than any other in the union — everyone was happy. Two years after living in Jackson County, I heard about these amazing kindergarten classrooms at Hazelwood Elementary; I wanted my kids to have this wonderful experience. After apartment living for two years, I moved into a colleague’s house in Waynesville. Finally—the west was feeling like home. My kids had a yard, and I had Belk (Modern, Southern, Style!). Plus, Waynesville is halfway between my Cullowhee office and Biltmore Park classroom. Jackpot! 

Future of Haywood lynching monument becoming clear

While much of the nation is talking about removing monuments, the discussion in one Western North Carolina county is also about installing them — and that discussion is no less contentious. 

Making history: In the summer of ’67, former college president was Smokies’ first black naturalist

The year that Joe Lee turned 21, the Brown vs. Board of Education decision turned 13, the Civil Rights Act turned 3 and last published edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book turned 1. 

It also happened to be the year that the U.S. Department of the Interior mandated that the national parks get on board with integration and begin hiring African-American rangers. Lee, a rising senior at Talladega College with a strong interest in biology and botany, applied for a naturalist position in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

In Fitzgerald’s fields

In Fitzgerald’s fields they toiled, sun-dappled and rain-soaked, caked in mud and in blood and in sweat. They raised corn and peas and potatoes and children and they always had plenty of butter and honey and wool so long as with ceaseless toil they coaxed the stubborn mountainside into giving up its seasonal blessings.

They worked about as hard as, and had about as much as, any other poor white Reconstruction-era Waynesville farmer except for the rights expressed in that document which begins, “We the people” because they were still somehow less than that. 

Pigeon community revitalization gaining steam

Longstanding plans for a park near the Pigeon Street corridor are about to move forward, as are other plans designed to connect — physically and symbolically — Waynesville’s bustling Main Street with the town’s historic African American neighborhood. 

WCU honors first black student

Nearly 300 members of the Western Carolina University community came together Thursday, Sept. 5, to dedicate the campus’s newest residence hall in honor of Levern Hamlin Allen, the institution’s first African-American student and a woman characterized by WCU Chancellor Kelli R. Brown as “a quiet pioneer of integration.”

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