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Posts published by “adminnewspack”

Entwined With Slavery: A Brief Local History

John Haywood

By 1860, about 15 percent of the population of Western North Carolina was enslaved. Only a small percentage of the White settlers, who had pushed out Indigenous Native Americans,  owned slaves — about 2 percent of households, according to Katherine Calhoun Cutshall, collections manager, North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library — and of those, most owned one or two. The majority were owned by a handful of elite families, whose names are commemorated throughout the region. 

They used their wealth and influence to help build Asheville and surrounding communities, supporting government, schools, healthcare, infrastructure, parks and other civic improvements, for which they were honored. But the wealth that lifted them to prominence was derived in large part by the enslavement and exploitation of Black people, entwining their many good deeds with the evil of racism.

Asheville

Originally Morristown,

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What’s In a Name? For Asheville, Signs Point to History of Racism

City’s Dilemma: Preserve? Remove? Rename? Contextualize?

James Washington Patton (Patton Avenue)

Vance, Patton, Woodfin,  Henderson, Weaver, Chunn, Baird — their names are familiar  to anyone living in Asheville and Buncombe County today. All were wealthy and influential civic leaders honored by having their names bestowed on statues, monuments, streets, schools, parks, neighborhoods, and local communities.

They were also major slaveholders or slave traders and white supremacists who amassed their wealth and influence in part through the exploitation of human beings they treated as property. Of all the slaveholders in Buncombe County, no one enslaved more African Americans than Nicholas W. Woodfin, James W. Patton, and James McConnell Smith, according to census records and slave deeds. 

Asheville itself was named for a major slaveholder, as was Buncombe County. The fortunes that propelled Samuel Ashe and Edward Buncombe to prominence were wrung from the suffering of hundreds of enslaved Africans on their sugar and cotton plantations.

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How Tech Can Help Asheville’s Economy

With Tourism Hurting, Asheville Needs Other Economic Drivers

Tech entrepreneur Trevor Lohrbeer: "I don't see Asheville becoming a major tech player, though I do think the tech industry could be built up to the point where it contributes significantly to the local economy."

In 2019, if you were to ask anyone what drove Asheville’s economy, they’d tell you beer, arts and crafts, outdoor recreation, hotels and restaurants. In short, tourism. 

Today, with those businesses only just beginning to ramp back up and tourists staying home, talk of diversifying Asheville’s economy is picking up. Local technology businesses and the rise of technology-based work-from-home jobs may be part of the solution. 

Asheville already has a tech sector, albeit a small one with only 1% of the job market and approximately 1,900 jobs. But with an average salary of nearly $58,000 a year, according to ZipRecruiter, Western North Carolina tech jobs are good ones. And, more jobs are coming.

Charles Edward Industries (CEI), a minority-owned electronics manufacturer, in concert with the Buncombe County Commission, Asheville City Council, and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC),

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The Race For The GOP Nomination In The 11th Congressional District Could Embarrass Trump

Editor’s Note:  On June 23rd, Madison Cawthorn defeated Lynda Bennett to become the Republican candidate in North Carolina’s 11th congressional district race.  Cawthorn will face Democrat Morris (Moe) Davis in the general election Nov. 3.

When then-Congressman Mark Meadows stunned his constituents last winter with plans to abandon his seat to become White House chief of staff, he was already secretly assisting family-friend Lynda Bennett of Maggie Valley in getting a running start to succeed him.

In the predawn of December 19, before most folks in Western North Carolina had rubbed sleep from their eyes or learned of Meadows’ overnight announcement, Bennett issued a press release announcing her candidacy and boasting of endorsements from Meadows and his loyalists in the Asheville Tea Party.  She went live with a campaign website that the Smoky Mountain News later found to have been two months in the making with the assistance of Meadows’ brother.  

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Asheville Arrest Data Suggest Discrimination Against Black People

African-Americans Disproportionately Charged by Police

Police Chief David Zack

African-Americans in Asheville are three times more likely than white people to be searched by police in traffic stops and are disproportionately charged with common crimes such as marijuana possession in disparities that experts in police bias called shocking, an AVL Watchdog analysis of police data found.

Among lower-level crimes such as disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting an officer – offenses where police have broad discretion – Black people account for 33 to 40 percent of the charges while representing just 12 percent of the city’s population, according to the analysis of arrests posted on the city’s web site from 2012 through early this month.

The data suggest that Asheville, which is on its fifth police chief in nine years, has failed to guarantee equal treatment under the law for all its citizens.

“These numbers raise serious concerns about discriminatory policing,” said Roy L.

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The police chief who gave meaning to Serve and Protect

Tom Fiedler reflects on policing through unrest from another era

Rocky Pomerance (left) with U.S. Rep. Claude Pepper in 1974.

The legendary Miami Beach police chief Rocky Pomerance was asked in an interview with People magazine why he so passionately believed in the importance of police work.  “Because,” he said, “we are the only social-service agency you can call on for help after 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.”

Characterizing the police as a social-service agency isn’t likely what comes to most minds nowadays, and certainly not among people of color.  Burned in memory here in Asheville are photographs of Asheville police destroying a makeshift street clinic set up by local medical workers to assist protesters, an action so mindless that even the police chief apologized for it two days later.  These images are creating an equally mindless battle cry of “Defund the Police” as if the root problem is one of municipal budget allocation. 

This isn’t policing as Rocky Pomerance practiced it during one of the nation’s most turbulent periods of public unrest. 

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‘Stand With Protesters’

Downtown businesses, some vandalized, show their support

Kathryn Crawford and Gus Cutty led a group of local artists that created Black Lives Matter murals downtown.

One by one, they arrived at their downtown businesses this week to find shattered storefronts and graffiti-stained walls.

The damage could not have come at a worse time, following a two-month closure from a pandemic and a sluggish reopening.

But these Asheville business owners chose not to cast blame or demand justice from the vandals.

They joined the cause.

Patton Avenue Pet Company owner Jenna Wilson, Hazel Twenty boutique owner Lexi DiYeso and others drafted a letter that they posted Thursday night in the Asheville Black Lives Matter Community Facebook group. It began with 20 signatures and by Saturday, 49 downtown merchants had signed their names.

“Several of our storefronts were vandalized, with the potential for more damage in the days to come. We’ve boarded up our windows and are already seeing a decline in business coming to our Downtown locations,” the letter reads.

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Gassed

Inside Monday’s protest in downtown Asheville

A stranger poured milk on Mark MacNamara to soothe the effects of tear gas.

June 1st.  Night.

A few minutes before the first explosion a black woman stopped to say,  “It’s nice to see another older person.” She patted my arm. “You too,” I replied. Such kind eyes, I thought and reached out to touch back but she was gone.  I was standing just up from the police station, under the sign that reads, “Young Men’s Institution. Established 1892 as center of social, moral, religious influence for blacks working at Biltmore.”

The crowd was closely packed, but not a mob, which must always carry on its back its twin brother, lynch.  Altogether, the faces were mostly white, college looking, no one over 30, plenty of voyeurs, no apparent flower children, street people, drunkos or wackos, and only the rare person not wearing a virus mask, but of course you’re thinking, how many new cases are going to come out of this?

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What teachers see through an
on-line lens

Some students thrive but many are virtual dropouts

Online learning gave teachers a glimpse into their students’ lives.

Impressions from the front lines as the school year ended last week with classrooms shut and students trying to learn from home: 

A Buncombe County elementary teacher: “We had some students who looked to me like they hadn’t bathed in a week,” said the teacher, recounting an experience from before the schools shut down. “If the parent isn’t helping them take a bath each week, I know that they aren’t helping them with [on-line] school work.”

A community schools coordinator: “I’m seeing a lot more usage of drugs, mostly marijuana.” These young teen students log-in to the school’s video connection “when they’re high… These kids are smoking an entire blunt – I’ll be honest – and they’ll do it all day.”

A first-grade teacher: “It was like the child had disappeared,” the teacher said recounting the situation of a student.

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What teachers see through an on-line lens

Some students thrive but many are virtual dropouts

Online learning gave teachers a glimpse into their students’ lives.

Impressions from the front lines as the school year ended last week with classrooms shut and students trying to learn from home: 

A Buncombe County elementary teacher: “We had some students who looked to me like they hadn’t bathed in a week,” said the teacher, recounting an experience from before the schools shut down. “If the parent isn’t helping them take a bath each week, I know that they aren’t helping them with [on-line] school work.”

A community schools coordinator: “I’m seeing a lot more usage of drugs, mostly marijuana.” These young teen students log-in to the school’s video connection “when they’re high… These kids are smoking an entire blunt – I’ll be honest – and they’ll do it all day.”

A first-grade teacher: “It was like the child had disappeared,” the teacher said recounting the situation of a student.

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