Asheville – As our society becomes “woke” to the “evils” of southerners’ history, the Asheville City moves forward with demands by Asheville Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters from last summer, including removing monuments to slaveholders and the renaming of streets that bear the name of slaveholders.
About 120 of Asheville streets are named for slaveholders and concerned members of the Council of Independent Business Owners (CIBO) recently wondered if the city plans on compensating business owners for the cost incurred with the name changes – new business cards, stationery, advertising, etc.
“City Development Services Director Ben Woody told the Council of Independent Business Owners Jan. 15 to ‘not necessarily assume that that’s going to be an issue.’ That could be because only new streets are affected or renaming is limited to certain areas, Woody said,” in an Asheville Citizen-Times article.
Two of the most prominent roads in Asheville that come to mind are Merrimon Ave. named for Augustus Summerfield Merrimon, a noted US Senator and judge from the 1980s and Patton Ave. named for James Washington Patton, a renowned businessman also of the 1800s. Merrimon was also good friends of Zebulon Vance – as in the Vance Monument – yes, that Vance. Hundreds, if not more than a thousand businesses, would be affected if the roads’ names were changed.
It seems to me, if you are going to leave these two most prominent roads unchanged, then why worry about the less prominent ones? For that matter, why allow the name of the city to remain? Asheville is named for NC Gov. Samuel Ashe, the state’s ninth governor and a slaveholder.
So, how come there is no discussion on changing Asheville’s name? If city officials are going to be really “woke” to the sins of the past, it seems a bit foolish to leave some names of slaveholders in place while doing away with others. Especially the name of the city, which “honors” a slaveholder every time it’s written or used.
If the city wants to make strides to right the wrongs of the past, then maybe they should look to the original name of the area known today as Asheville. No, not Morristown – Morris was probably a slaveowner too. The Cherokee name of the area which was traditionally used for open hunting and meeting grounds. “They called it Untokiasdiyi (in Cherokee), meaning ‘Where they race,’ until the middle of the 19th century,” according to Wikipedia.
I think it’s a great name meeting all the criteria of the “woke” society in which we live, first it honors the native people we stole the land from in the first place. It can in no way be considered to have come from white Europeans. It will be unique and weird, which keeps with Asheville’s current slogan. It’s also New Age-ish, which also is in keeping with the flavor of the area.
Wait, did the Cherokee ever have to own slaves? Anyway, Keep Untokiasdiyi weird.