ASHEBORO — A resolution passed unanimously on Sept. 8 by the Asheboro City Council “puts the City of Asheboro in favor of moving the Confederate statue.”
That statement by Councilman Bill McCaskill summed up an amended resolution resulting from one brought before the council in August by the Randolph County NAACP.
The resolution concludes: “The City of Asheboro North Carolina desires that the Confederate statue located on Randolph County Courthouse property in the City of Asheboro be relocated to some other respectable placement as soon as possible.”
The resolution will be sent to the Randolph County Board of Commissioners, who voted earlier this year to keep the statue as is in front of the Historic 1909 Courthouse on Worth Street.
The original resolution presented by the NAACP had asked for a bipartisan committee to be formed to study the issue. Chip Foust, president of the local NAACP, wanted a committee formed from people “from all sides” to come up with a “plan best suited for Randolph County.”
There is no mention of such a committee in the amended version. However, the resolution passed by the council “offers any necessary assistance to facilitate relocation of the statue.”
Walker Moffitt, mayor pro tem, said the amended resolution came about after “productive discussions with the (NAACP) delegation. What they requested seems reasonable, fair and honorable.” He also stressed the paragraph that says, “Whereas, due to the passion of those both pro and con concerning the statue, said statue constitutes an ongoing public safety threat in the City of Asheboro.”
Councilman Clark Bell said, “I find the supplemental resolution palatable.”
Councilman Charles Swiers recognized the “NAACP’s willingness to be flexible.”
The council seemed open to a committee being appointed to discuss the issue and make recommendations. Foust added that the NAACP “is determined that it be a group from all over with no expectations. Its actions (should be) based on facts.”
An argument by the county commissioners for keeping the statue in place is a state law forbidding the movement of such monuments without legislative approval. For that reason, City Manager John Ogburn said there needs to be a meeting with newly-elected members of the NC General Assembly to encourage them to make the process easier.
Mayor David Smith addressed members of the NAACP: “This is not what you asked for … but it’s what the council is comfortable with. We will forward this to the county commissioners with the offer of help. We will schedule a workshop with the legislators.”
During the public comments period, Foust thanked the council “from the bottom of my heart on behalf of the NAACP.” He said that since the commissioners didn’t want to act, that left doing nothing or getting support from the city.
“We will not take your step for granted,” Foust said. “We will work with anybody who will make Randolph County better.”
Jane Gant told the council that “you have a stake in this. The statue was given to both the city and county. I’m not totally pleased, but I understand the city and county have to work together.”
James Pemberton said, “This is just the beginning. It’s going to be a long fight. But we’re all in this together.” He continued: “Asheboro is being watched.”
Kevin Price said, “There’s enough power on this board to move (the statue).” He mentioned Lexington’s removal of its Confederate statue from the Davidson County courthouse. “When you move it, people come together. People are shopping (in Lexington) where they’ve never been before because of the statue.”
Dean Brown reminded the council that the statue was “a memorial put up for men who fought in the war, to honor them. This has been made something it never was.”
In response, Foust said, “(The powers that were) sent those to the Confederate army to fight. It’s never been our idea of destroying the statue, it’s the idea of telling the rest of the story. There’s so much more to tell. Randolph County citizens fought and died for the United States and they’re not mentioned. We can get it right if we leave emotions behind and talk to each other. We can set an example to look to.”
Chuck Egerton said there is “a lot of mythology of what the statue stands for.” He said the United Daughters of the Confederacy were involved in putting up Confederate statues all over the South “for white supremacy during the Jim Crow era. The statue stands for wanting to keep slavery. We’re not responsible for the crimes of the past but we’re responsible for denying those crimes. We need to own up to what happened in real history.”
Whereas, in the City of Asheboro, on public property owned by the County of Randolph, in a prominent location on the grounds of the Randolph County Courthouse property, a statue of a Confederate soldier was erected in 1909, dedicated to “our Confederate heroes” in 1911, and remains to this day as a monument to Confederate soldiers.
Whereas, the Confederate statue is offensive to a significant number of Asheboro citizens because of its legacy of racial injustice during the period before and after the statue was erected.
Whereas, due to the passion of those both pro and con concerning the statue, said statue constitutes an ongoing public safety threat in the City of Asheboro.
Whereas, the City of Asheboro desires to continue economic development progress in the City for the benefit of all our citizens. The Confederate statue, because of past injustices it represents and its prominent governmental location, potentially damages the City of Asheboro’s ability to recruit new business and industry.
Whereas, the City of Asheboro seeks to be an inclusive and just governmental entity for all our citizens.
NOW, THEREFORE, to accomplish the above mentioned goals, it is RESOLVED as follows:
The City Council of Asheboro North Carolina desires that the Confederate statue located on Randolph County Courthouse property in the City of Asheboro be relocated to some other respectable placement as soon as possible. The City Council of Asheboro hereby offers any necessary assistance to facilitate relocation of the statue.
This resolution was duly adopted by the Asheboro City Council in open session during a regular meeting held on the 8th day of September, 2022.