Recently, I sent a letter to the Fayetteville City Council concerning my opinion (and that of many others) about the possibility that the city would consider eliminating the Market House from its logo. Along with the letter I sent them several photos showcasing the Historic Market House as a symbol of our city. I’m not sure they realize how many iconic images of the Market House are in our city or the significance of this nationally recognized historic structure.
Erasing history is never easy. Actually, it is impossible. First of all, the Civil War was not [all] about slavery. Taxation without representation comes to mind as a reason for the Civil War. Those who find the Market House offensive should read more about Fayetteville’s history and not just pick and choose those things that fit their bias and misguided debate. Matter of fact, eliminating history for others also means eliminating your own history.
The Market House (or State House) is vital and significant to Fayetteville’s heritage and, in my opinion, should remain a symbol of our city because of all the significant and historic events that took place there. The Market House for true history buffs is a hallmark for Fayetteville and our own historic treasure. Sure, it has been acknowledged that slaves were sometimes sold or traded there, but, it is also true that it was never a “slave market,” per se. The history books tell us that slaves were sold or traded in numerous other places in and around the city including the courthouse. This being the case, it seems senseless to try to eradicate one specific building. Why not the entire city? What’s next and where does it stop?
Are we to ask the Veterans Administration to remove the Market House likeness from the top of the Veterans Hospital on Ramsey Street? Or disavow our two recognitions as an All-America City just because the Market House is adorning the logo? It’s borderline silliness.
Many are not aware that the Market House, built in 1832, was built by black tradesmen. Do we want to diminish their legacy? And, why would we want to diminish our legacy? Can we not take great pride in the fact that it was here in Fayetteville, in the Market House that North Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution, chartered the University of North Carolina and actually ceded western territory to create the state of Tennessee?
My goodness! It is the only national landmark in Cumberland County and there are only 40 such designations in the entire state.
Political correctness is destroying this city as well as America and by trying to eradicate our history, we are needlessly and senselessly disrespecting all Fayetteville citizens, especially the black residents in our community. Think about this: In the Market House hangs a plaque honoring Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932). An Afro-American writer, educator and scholar, Chesnutt was born the son of free blacks who had emigrated to Fayetteville. He worked part-time in the family grocery store while getting his formal education. In 1880, he became principal of the Fayetteville State Normal School for Negroes; now, Fayetteville State University. In 1928, the NAACP honored him with the Spingarn Medal for his pioneering work on behalf of the Afro-American struggle. Today, Charles W. Chesnutt is recognized and remembered as an important contributor to the de-romanticizing trend in post-Civil War southern literature and the singular voice among turn-of-the-century realists. A plaque in the Market House honors and commemorates this man. Shall his work and contributions to the black community be taboo, disrespected and written off as “collateral damage?” I think not.
His quote “We shall come up slowly and painfully perhaps, but, we shall win our way,” serves as a reminder that progress is constantly being made and hard work, perseverance and courage are the keys to accomplishment. Even the words engraved on the plaque serve as compelling and motivating directives. “They [slaves] endured the past so the future could be won for freedom and justice.”
Why would we want to disrespect and disavow such a shrine to humanity? We really need to think this situation out carefully and unemotionally. In the meantime, we need to get on with doing important municipal business, solving and preventing crime and improving our city’s quality of life and quit dilly dallying with history that we certainly cannot change. Let’s continue the dialogue and certainly acknowledge our historic past, but, the Fayetteville Market House Logo should remain in place to anchor, record and legitimize our city’s historic past while making sure everyone is invited to participate in Fayetteville’s future.
Let’s move on with things addressing the greater good of the community and avoid those who only want divisiveness. Concerned residents should contact the Fayetteville City
Council with their views on retaining the logo of the Market House. I appreciate Publisher Bill Bowman for yielding his space for this editorial opinion.