When The Salem Band Played Dixie

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.

Union Station Cheat Sheet

The City of Winston-Salem describes the soon-to-open Union Station as a “inter-modal transportation facility” that will serve “as a regional and local bus terminal and later expanding to include regional and long-distance passenger rail service.” When the City took Union Station from Harvey Davis, via eminent domain they were mandated to use Union Station for public transportation. Thus, Union Station will be a bus station for the foreseeable future and perhaps one day a train station. But not any time soon. Though Council Members have assured us that Union Station won’t replace Clark Campbell, that’s cleary what some downtown leaders desire.

Goler Hits The Market

Friday, the Winston-Salem Journal reported that Goler Memorial AME Zion’s property adjacent to the Innovation Quarter was for sale. Goler listed their property at Patterson and Seventh for $3.5 million with Linville Team Partners, the commercial real estate firm that has the Downtown Winston market cornered. $3.5 million is a steep price. Who in Winston besides Wake Forest University could come up with that type of money? Goler Memorial plans to relocate.

MLK Day And Urban Renewal In Winston

Last Monday the Ministers’ Conference and local NAACP led a procession of supporters from the convention center, through Downtown Winston, through the former Pond neighborhood, concluding at Union Baptist Church. The presence of majority African American marchers going through downtown reminded me of how African Americans have been systematically pushed out of Downtown Winston over several decades. As the rhythms of Carver’s Marching Band reverberated through Trade Street, I couldn’t help thinking about all the property that was taken from African Americans, the many decades’ long process of the gentrifying Downtown Winston. An excerpt from Winston-Salem’s African-American Neighborhoods, 1870-1950:

The Pond was a former African American neighborhood razed decades ago. That area of North Trade Street is now referred to as “Industry Hill” for marketing purposes.

Melissa Harris-Perry At Union Baptist

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry delivered Winston’s 39th Annual MLK Noon Hour Commemoration address on Monday. The Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University didn’t disappoint the packed audience at Union Baptist (including Mayor Joines and three rows of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County politicians, seated front and center). Harris-Perry is something of a public intellectual, widely known to the general public due to the popularity of The Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC (2012-2016). MHP is an author, an editor at the Nation, and Elle.com. But, Harris-Perry seldom speaks in Winston, outside of the campus of Wake Forest University.

Protesters Greatly Outnumber Confederate Supporters On Fourth Street

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.

Merry Prankster Defaces Downtown Statue That Should Have Been Removed Long Ago

Christmas came a day early for everyone in Winston that resents the presence of a Confederate statue in front of the old courthouse. Yesterday, some merry prankster with a purpose wrote the words “COWARDS & TRAITORS” on the Confederate statue that has stood tall at Liberty and Fourth for many years, projecting hate. Earlier in the week I was bemoaning Winston’s inaction, our nonchalance toward Johnny Rebel* when activists in Durham and Chapel Hill (two other college towns) took down their Confederate statues in August 2017 and August 2018 respectively. I’ve been impressed with activists in Chapel Hill, the work they’ve done to keep Silent Sam from returning to UNC. By contrast, Winston has been silent.

Nissen Wagon Works Building Redevelopment Never Got Of The Ground

The recent collapse of the Nissen Wagon Works building’s roof is anything but an act of nature. That building was left to rot and decay. Ironically, the Linville Team Partners for sale sign is visible in the rubble. Historic buildings are in short supply, it’s sad that what’s left of a once vast network of Nissen factory buildings wasn’t preserved. The loss of another historic structure in a majority-minority neighborhood rekindles memories of the suspicious Brown Elementary School fire that occurred just two years ago.

Collapse Of Nissen Wagon Works: A Lost Opportunity

Monday afternoon the historic Nissen Wagon Works building on Waughtown Street collapsed. The Winston-Salem Journal reported that the weight of this weekend’s snowfall was too much for the old building’s roof to support. We can only assume that the structure that has sat idle for many years will be condemned and bulldozed. Soon, only the historical marker outside of the Nissen Wagon Works will be left to tell the historical sites’ story. For decades Nissen produced many of the wagons that hauled tobacco into Winston. 

It’s a shame that that building wasn’t rehabilitated and re-purposed in the 2000s when so many historic buildings in Downtown Winston were brought back to life.

Reynolda Polo Fields Marker Illustrates The Uselessness Of The Ultra-Rich

Winston is a city full of historical markers. Since 2001, the Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission has placed “history on a stick” markers throughout Winston-Salem, making our city’s history plain for all to see. Winston’s historical markers signify it’s prominent neighborhoods past and present, they tell of the growth and progression of our city, of labor and civil rights struggles. Sadly, historical markers are all that remain of once thriving Black neighborhoods in the city. But not all historical markers in Winston carry equal weight.