The Museum We Cannot Name

Back in June, this site posted several polls covering the likelihood that the Civil War Museum planned for Fayetteville would be funded and constructed. Since that time, the museum appears to be on track to receive 48 Million in state funds. But back home, dissent is growing.

Last night, Val Applewhite and the NAACP organized a community meeting called “Black Voices, Stolen Choices” to express discontent with the museum, as planned. Mayor Mitch Colvin gave a speech. Here’s one line:

“This is about priorities, and this is about a divisive concept that will not be accepted and not leave our community a better place.”

Mayor Mitch Colvin (9/27/19)

Here’s the ABC11 story on the meeting, with video: Community holds discussion over proposed Civil War Museum.

Now, Colvin and other African American leaders want to change the name and the “concept” of the museum before they will support it. Do you think they are serious? Or are they simply trying to sink the project all together? Let me point out some simple facts before you decide:

  1. The state budget allocates money for a Civil War Museum.

2. The museum’s website is nccivilwarcenter.org.

3. This is a museum about the Civil War and Reconstruction and has been since its inception, in 2007.

Yes, the Civil War & Reconstruction Center has been in the works for over a decade. It takes a lot of planning to pull something like this off. Colvin and others knew that when they voted for it the first time.

At this stage of the game, to have a public meeting and argue you want to change the name and the “concept” means you don’t support the museum. So just come out and say you don’t support it. Don’t try to modify it into something you know will not receive public support and state funding. Don’t hold public meetings in the name of “gauging” the support of the community when you are simply trying to pull the public to your new-found side.

You’ve changed your mind. You don’t want this museum on Haymount Hill. You’d rather the City’s money be spent elsewhere. Say so.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on our City Leaders? I’ve been pessimistic about this project’s chances since the beginning. That’s probably bleeding through. But now, I feel like it’s dead in the water.

In the end, this is a battle about race. It was in 1860. It was in reconstruction. It is now.

It shouldn’t have to be. This is 2019. That was the whole point. This “museum of the future” was supposed to transcend all that and “tell both sides” and “bring us together.” Now we can’t even get past the name.

In the end, it takes leadership to transcend something that powerful. Right now, I don’t see it.

Do you?


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