Monday, the City Council will vote on whether or not to change the name of the Dixie Classic Fair. The second-largest fair in the state has had many names over the years. It’s been known as the Dixie Classic Fair since 1956. I’m all for changing the name. The name”Dixie” was a reaction to desegregation efforts.
There wasn’t a lot on Tuesday night’s City Council agenda. It was mostly the boring business of the City. The bond package passed last fall took one step closer to reality, Phase 2 of the Quarry Park’s development was approved. Local activists speaking truth to power during the public comment period energized a dull meeting. They implored the City Council to make justice their business.
On a cold, wet winter’s day opponents and proponents of the Confederate statue at 50 West Fourth Street gathered on opposite sides of Fourth Street in dueling protests. At the base of the Confederate statue, a modest, all-white group of approximately 20 gathered. They came to Winston to oppose Winston-Salem Alliance President and W-S Mayor, Allen Joines’ plan to move Winston’s Confederate statue to Salem Cemetery. Across the street, at One West Fourth Street, a much more substantial and diverse crowd gathered to denounce the racially and historically challenged supporters of the Confederacy. A social media post two weeks ago alerted the Left in Winston that some unsavory, Confederate-loving rabble were coming to Winston.
Troublemakers force politicians to act. When a brave, anonymous activist added some commentary to Downtown Winston’s Confederate monument on Christmas Eve, it was an early Christmas gift for anti-racist activists in Winston and throughout the state. What was a one or two-day story, became the story in Winston-Salem that everyone is talking about when Mayor Allen Joines announced on January 1, a new plan to relocate Winston’s Confederate statue. Chapel Hill is still the epicenter of the state’s Confederate statue debate. If lawmakers in the NC General Assembly and members of the UNC Board of Governors don’t back down, the state’s flagship public university is going to ignite.
Nearly five months ago, the Confederate statue that stood in downtown Winston-Salem since 1905 was removed by the City of Winston-Salem. That statue was erected, four decades after the Civil War ended to cement Jim Crow segregation. It was an illegitimate participation trophy, meant to terrorize African Americans. Anyone who is uncertain of the purpose of the former statue located at Fourth and Liberty should remember that Alfred Moore Waddell, the racist terrorist who led a bloody coup that ousted Wilmington’s elected government in 1898, spoke at the statue’s dedication. The City of Winston-Salem currently has the unrepentant rebel stored at an undisclosed location.
After several months of sustained activism (passing out flyers, hosting public events and attending long school board meetings) Hate Out of Winston, a local activist group that came together during Winston’s Confederate statue controversy has succeeded in getting WSFC Schools to consider universal African American history classes in the fall. (Mandatory sounds so negative, learning African American history is a positive for WS/FCS students regardless of the color of their skin. That’s why I’m using the term universal instead of mandatory.)
Earlier today, Triad City Beat reported that “that the curriculum committee of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board will consider adding a mandatory African-American studies class to the high school curriculum at its October meeting.” Jordan Green’s article noted that several local Black politicians are publicly supporting universal African American history classes. Student Minister Effrainguan Muhammad told Green that the “Winston-Salem Local Organizing Committee has been asking for a mandatory African-American studies course for the past three years” only to get the runaround from the WSFC School Board.
Earlier this week, a group of ministers asked the City Council to consider changing the name of the Dixie Classic Fair. I support what Rev. Bishop Sir Walter Mack Jr. and Love Out Loud proposed. But it wasn’t what Mack and other ministers said at last week’s General Government Committee meeting that drew my attention; it was how they said it. Local ministers in Winston work within the system and seldom speak a discourteous word to the Mayor and City Council. I prefer the tone Hate Out of Winston took when they stood up to the City Council earlier this year.
Kaleideum: say hello to higher taxes in Forsyth County. Say goodbye to any county-wide education or anti-poverty initiatives that could have been funded with $30.5 million. The Forsyth County Commissioners just approved an extremely generous subsidy to Kaleideum, by a 5-2 vote. This outcome was not surprising. But it was disappointing, and it will limit Forsyth County’s budgetary options for years to come.
There is little question which local Winston-Salem/Forsyth County political body is currently home to the most compelling political debates. It’s not the Winston-Salem City Council, though the Confederate statue controversy has heated things up at City Hall recently. It’s certainly not the rather dull mid-afternoon Forsyth County Commissioners’ meetings. The epicenter of political debate and activism right now in our community is the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board. In 2018, the WS/FC School Board was home to contentious debates regarding the health of students and faculty at Ashley Academy, teacher compensation, and a multi-use stadium (i.e., a football stadium) for R.J. Reynolds’ High School.
The Winston-Salem Journal has reported that an attorney for the United Daughters of the Confederacy has asked the City of Winston-Salem to delay its plans to move the Confederate statue that stands at Fourth and Liberty:
The United Daughters of the Confederacy is asking Winston-Salem for a 60-day delay in filing any legal action to force removal of the Confederate statue at the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets on the grounds of the former Forsyth County Courthouse. James Davis, attorney for the UDC’s North Carolina Division, told City Attorney Angela Carmon in a letter dated Jan. 25 that there are questions about the ownership of the statue and whether allegations that the statue is a public or private nuisance are legally valid. -Confederate statue backers (who may or may not own it) ask city to hold off on forcing a move for the memorial, Wesley Young Winston-Salem Journal
If the UDC succeeds in delaying Mayor Joines’ plan to move the Confederate statue from Downtown Winston to Salem Cemetary, it’s time for Joines to implement his backup plan. On January 1, Joines made headlines by stating the City’s intention to move the rebel statue at Fourth and Liberty to Salem Cemetary.