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What about the Market House?

03 Market House in Fayetteville NCWe Americans continue to find ourselves in all sorts of distress, some of it acute and some of it as President Jimmy Carter famously said, a “malaise.” The pandemic has upended life as we knew it for millions of all ages, and the sadness, fury and national reckoning following George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparks ongoing peaceful protests across the country and, in some instances, unlawful violence and destruction. In short, many of us feel unmoored and on edge politically and culturally. For many, no safe harbor appears on the horizon.

Which brings us to the Market House in downtown Fayetteville.

As a Fayetteville native, the Market House has been part of the landscape all my life. For people who come to our community later in their lives, it must be a curiosity, a relic modeled on the traditional English town hall. History records that the Market House was used primarily by local and area vendors to sell farm produce, meats and other goods in the open arcaded area. Enclosed meeting space above provided a gathering space. Although several Southern port cities such as Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, created designated slave markets, that was not the purpose of the Fayetteville Market House.

That said, human beings whose ancestors were captured in Africa and brought to this country against their will were indeed sold on the site of Fayetteville’s Market House. It did not happen every day, but it did happen. A 1989 plaque approved by Fayetteville City Council members and erected in the building’s arcade memorializes the human beings who were sold there. The cold hard fact of those sales is what brought out protestors in recent weeks and precipitated vandalism at the site.

So, what now?

Some have called for razing the building, the only local structure designated a National Landmark, and others call for finding a commemorative purpose for it. Razing makes no sense to me. Doing so would not take away the stain that resides there, any more than razing Nazi concentration camps in Europe would make the Holocaust not real. I fall into the repurposing camp. In my own memory, the Market House has been open to vehicular traffic, has housed a public library, art museum and several offices and hosted musical concerts and parades and various other activities.

The first and primary challenge of any repurposing is to expand the memorial to those who were sold there with names and dates as far as are known. This memorial would become the focus of repurposing, central to whatever occurs at the Market House. Various ideas have been floated— a museum dedicated to local African American culture among them, and all proposals should be explored.

The guiding principle as our community undergoes this process should be to memorialize the people who were subjected to Fayetteville’s role in our nation’s original sin.

History does not dissipate

02 pub pen book coverThe debate raging over the future of the Market House in our great city of Fayetteville is not diminishing anytime soon. It is and has always been a historic landmark of controversy. However, the iniquitous attention it is receiving now has been conjured up from the revival of decades-old misinformation that the building was a designated slave market. This is not true.

Even after countless documents of North Carolina historical data on the Market House confirmed that enslaved negros during that period in history were considered property and sold or auctioned as part of private estates. Ignoring these facts seems to be an inconvenient truth as well as an excuse and flashpoint for rioters, hostile protesters and anarchists. Personal sentiments and opinions do not alter the facts.

In this edition, Margaret Dickson, a lifelong resident of Fayetteville and, successful businesswoman, former Democratic senator and state representative, shares her thoughts, concerns and heartfelt sentiments about this topic in her article “What about the Market House?” on page 5. Not only does she make a compelling argument for repurposing this historic building but “ … to memorialize the people who were subjected to Fayetteville’s role in our nation’s original sin.”

I was at the dedication ceremony she mentioned in 1989 when Fayetteville unveiled the City Council’s plaque recognizing and honoring the human beings sold there. W.T. Brown, a local educator, statesmen and respected community leader, gave the most elegant and compelling speech. It left the entire audience united, resolved and committed to live and work together for the betterment of the Fayetteville community and for the prosperity of future generations.

Facts are facts, and history is just that — history. This brings me to the subject of a wonderful and factual resource document brought to my attention recently by a longtime Fayetteville resident, friend, historian, show promoter, genealogist, realtor, pewterer and pottery expert, Mr. Quincey Scarborough. Given the negative attention the Market House was receiving, Quincey brought by my office this book titled “The Market House of Fayetteville, North Carolina.” It was written by Patricia Ann Leahy, in 1976, when she was teaching at Fayetteville State University. This small but insightful book was written basically to dispel the notion the Market House was a slave market and to put it and Fayetteville into a relevant historical perspective. It is excellent.

Leahy tells Fayetteville’s story from the arrival and struggles of the Highland Scots in 1732 to the establishment of Campbellton and Cross Creek to the merging of both settlements in 1783 into the town of Fayetteville. Utilizing meticulous research and an impressive bibliography, maps, schematics, historic artwork and photos, original documents/letters and newspaper articles, ads and letters to the editor, Leahy made two points crystal clear in only 32 pages. First, the Market House was a legitimate historic landmark that did sell slaves but was never a slave market. Second, the controversy over the Market House and the arguments generating from it today are exactly the same as those that existed in 1976 when her book was first published. Read it for yourself. Barnes & Nobles has it available now as part of the NOOK selection for only $5. BN ID. 2940158564031. Author: Patricia Ann Leahy, Caron Lazar

On a personal note: Until Mr. Scarborough made me aware of Leahy’s book, I had no idea about her credentials. I met and became friends with Pat Leahy in the early ‘90s through her civic contributions, dedication and involvement with the Fayetteville Museum of Art and all aspects of the Fayetteville cultural community. She had a wonderful and joyful personality and, for years, hosted some of the most fun and outrageous Halloween parties in her home. I want to thank Mr. Scarborough for his support and for bringing this to my attention.

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly and for your support of our local newspaper. I appreciate the calls, emails and text messages of encouragement we have received during these trying times. However, I assure you everyone here at UCW is dedicated and committed to supporting the Fayetteville, Fort. Bragg and Cumberland County communities and to continuing to accentuate our unique amenities and quality of life.

Choices have consequences

05 chemours signChoices have consequences! As a dad, grandpa and great-grandpa, I have always taught my children and grandchildren that they are responsible for their actions. Working with children in the Boys & Girls Clubs in Cumberland County, and as the Executive Director for the past 37 years, I have emphasized that same basic principle with them — everyone should be accountable for their choices.

Chemours/Dupont has made choices for years. Those choices were made in its best financial interests, not those of our community’s. Now the consequence of their choices has come to light — GenX contaminated water throughout our community. Drinking water, showers, animals and gardens can be affected. The solution that was accepted was to bring water lines to two Gray’s Creek elementary schools. Someone has to pay for that! Who? The Cumberland County Schools will chip in. PWC has agreed to fund part of it. Where do those entities get that money? From you and I! That’s where — from the taxpayer.

Did you benefit from the financial choices Chemours/Dupont made? No. Gray’s Creek homeowners have had to readjust their lives with bottled water for drinking. Some have accepted filtration systems for drinking water in their homes. Others are concerned about property values declining. Many are experiencing severe health issues. Who knows how pets and livestock are affected? What is the effect of this ecological disaster on our crops? New housing developers have to increase costs by paying for running water lines, they, in turn, pass those costs along to the new homeowners. Why would any business develop this area? Where is Chemours/Dupont’s accountability in all this? Why aren’t they paying? Why do we, the taxpayers, and the Gray’s Creek community have to feel the brunt of choices someone else made?

You may think you are a small fish in a big pond, but together we can make a difference. We can hold people and industries accountable for their choices. A strong Cumberland County Board of Commissioners should hold Chemours/Dupont accountable for its choices. These choices don’t just affect Gray’s Creek — taxes come from across our county. Everyone is paying for Chemours/Dupont’s choices. Help me help us all hold them accountable.

To discuss this further, please contact me via email at boysgirlsrobeson@carolina.net . I am Ron Ross, and I am running for the Cumberland County Board of Commissioner District 2 seat to make your voice heard and your tax-dollar valued.

America in black and white

04 IMG 2831Things are a bit tough all over. Paragons of virtue are dropping like flies. The U.S. Post Office is being dismantled right before our very eyes to help Dear Leader’s re-election prospects. Remember the picture of Jerry Falwell Jr. on the yacht with one arm around the bare midriff of a Lady Friend and the other hand holding a drink? Neither Jerry nor Lady Friend can keep their pants zipped up for the photo. When having your picture made with a woman to whom you are not married, it is wise to have your pants zipped. Times change. It is bigly sad.

Jerry’s picture reminded me of “The Second Coming,” a poem William Butler Yeats wrote: “Things fall apart: the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world; … The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” If we cannot rely on our religious leaders to put passionate intensity behind them and keep their pants zipped, we are in a heap of trouble.

What with the ever-expanding death toll from The Rona, troubles in the streets, the stock market booming oblivious to the millions of Americans out of work who are worried about rent and being able to find their next meal, it all does not make sense. What’s it all about, Alfie? I tried to come up with a unified field theory of what it all means. Unfortunately, as Curly of the “Three Stooges” once said, “I tried to think, but nothing happened.”

But if once you can’t think, try, try again. I decided to cipher it all out, as Barney Fife would say. Eureka! Edgar Allen Poe might have provided a clue in his poem “The Raven.”
I stayed up late one night reading a TV Guide from the week of Oct. 17, 1965, hoping to find insight into today’s troubles. Just like in “The Raven,” the TV Guide spoke to me: “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary/ Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore/ While I nodded nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping, rapping at my chamber door.” The rapping came from the TV Guide. There is no lore more forgotten than a 1965 TV Guide.

There were many celestially transcendent TV shows in October 1965. Was there a common thread that might make sense of what was missing in 2020? TV gave America “Get Smart,” starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart and the beautiful Barbara Feldon as Agent 99. I always had a crush on Agent 99, alas it was never reciprocated. Herman and Lilly Munster and Grandpa Al Lewis in “The Munsters” graced the black-and-white screens of America.

“The Man from Uncle” with Illya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo — before he became a shill for a law firm in the 21st century — fought the evil international bad dudes of THRUSH. The most famous three-hour tour in history was in “Gilligan’s Island,” spawning endless hours of adolescent discussion of who was hotter: Ginger or Mary Ann. After Jed Clampett was out shooting for some food and up from the ground came a bubbling crude, oil that is, black gold, Texas Tea, the Clampetts moved to California to become the “Beverly Hillbillies.”

Who can forget the episode when Miss Jane Hathaway bought Elly Mae her first bra? Being a country gal, Elly didn’t know what it was. She declared her delight at having what she thought was a double-barreled slingshot for hunting. Classic. That may have been the first time a bra appeared on network TV.

The Space Family Robinson toured unknown galaxies in “Lost in Space,” with Lassie’s Mother June Lockheart as the original Mrs. Robinson, along with the semi-evil Dr. Zachary Smith, who was not someone you would want to supervise your children. The Robot frequently gave such excellent advice as “It does not compute” and “Danger Will Robinson!” particularly after Dr. Smith had been drinking. Oliver and Lisa Douglas said good-bye to city life and moved to Green Acres, where they encountered such bucolic characters as Mr. Haney and Arnold the Pig.

“Bewitched” graced the tube, starring Samantha, the beautiful witch, who was married to her befuddled husband, Darrin Stephens. As a prototype male chauvinist pig, Darrin did not want Samantha to use her witch powers to make life easier by magically twitching her nose to complete household chores. He wanted her scrubbing the floors the old-fashioned way like a good suburban housewife. Darrin’s mother-in-law, Endora, was a real witch. Like a typical 1960s mother-in-law joke, Endora thought Darrin was not good enough for her daughter and delighted in turning him into various animals. Fun fact: There were two Darrins — the first was actor Dick York, and the second Darrin was Dick Sargent. No one on the show noticed when York turned into Sargent. Maybe Endora did it. We shall never know.

So what does the 1965 TV Guide teach us about today? The common thread seemed to be spies, situational comedies on an uncharted desert isle, good-hearted monsters, suddenly wealthy country folks moving into the city, city folks moving into the country, dad’s who refuse to ask directions and get lost in space, and what happens when your wife turns out to be a real witch. My advice is to turn off the cable news and watch ME TV, where these shows live on forever and ever and ever. It was a kinder, gentler time. Now go find the remote.

A place to run and seek refuge

16 01 Champ DeBrulerWith only a few years' exception, we have always had a family dog. On two separate occasions we were stationed abroad, and that's the only time in 40 years I can recall not having a four-legged family member.

It wasn't until recently, though, that we had a pet that used a crate in the house. When it was first suggested to us, I declined; the notion of leaving a family member in a cage while we were away seemed cruel to me. To my surprise, he warmed up
to it immediately.

Champ is a good-sized dog. He's an American Bulldog — and a bunch of something else — tipping the scales at almost 80 pounds, and we nearly go nose-to-nose when he stands on his hind legs. But something I've observed about him and the crate speaks to the need we all have for a place of refuge.

While I've attended more services since March of this year than I did in all of 2019, it's been five months since I've been to church. I miss it. I miss the camaraderie, the fellowship, the hugs and handshakes. Initially, the doors at my church and many other churches were closed as people moved to online church services in response to COVID-19.

During that time, though, I started working with local church leaders to facilitate drive-in services over the radio. But as my home church began meeting again, I found myself having to miss in-person gatherings for the new Sunday morning work obligation I'd created. I enjoy 'visiting' other churches online, whether it's my sister-in-law's church in Wichita, Kansas, or the congregation my friend pastors just outside Stedman, but I miss gathering with my church family even more.

There's something about the closeness of gathering in a church setting that makes me feel safe. Not meeting for Sunday morning worship service hasn't hindered my ability or desire to worship God at all, but there's something about the collective experience with others that adds an altogether different dynamic.

Observing my dog and his crate, in light of my longing to gather, I begin to understand the passage in Psalm 91 a little more clearly: “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him.”

This hulk of a dog, whose size and appearance made neighbors choose social distancing before it was a thing at all, will run to that crate when he's afraid. He'll retreat to the seeming safety of that simple shelter when he senses anger, and he will voluntarily curl up and sleep within its four open walls whether we're home or away. It's his refuge.

He has the run of the house and yard, but chooses to return to something simple that promises a closeness and protection nothing else can.

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