We are asking for community input on a draft recommendation being developed by the Community Reparations Commission. The prompts below are inspired by the work of several of the Reparations Commission’s Impact Focus Areas on land taken from Black people. They describe the harm as follows: As a result of the urban renewal process enacted by City and County, Black homes and neighborhoods were displaced, multiple successful Black communities were destroyed, and the racial wealth gap was widened, as well as various racial disparities in business ownership and disparities in economic development investment from City and County.
Their Draft Recommendation: All City and County Owned land that was taken from Blacks be returned.
Please know that your responses will be made accessible to decision-makers and others involved with the Reparations process here in Asheville and Buncombe County. Thank you in advance for your voice!
In their 2020 Reparations Resolutions, both the City of Asheville and Buncombe County declared that they “apologize to the Black community and seek to make amends for (their) participation in an urban renewal program that harmed multiple, successful black communities.”
To better understand the history of urban renewal, we recommend that you review the City’s Story Map page, which summarizes this history and impact. We also highly recommend you check out the Urban Renewal Impact website developed by local researcher Priscilla Ndiaye Robinson, MSML. Ms. Robinson led a powerful presentation at the March 20th, 2023 Community Reparations Commission meeting. (You can watch it here – her presentation begins at the 1 hour 23 minute mark). Her team documented what happened to the hundreds of acres of land seized in the Southside neighborhood by the City of Asheville in the 1960’s, one of several projects that destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses in the Black community. It turns out that most of the seized Southside urban renewal land was sold at rock bottom prices to real estate developers, who saw an opportunity to reap massive benefits for themselves. And they have: the value of that land increased over the ensuing decades by as much as 1000%. This adds devastating detail to the deep injustice of this chapter of local history, and underscores why both Asheville and Buncombe County publicly apologized and promised amends for their complicity in urban renewal when they passed their 2020 Reparations resolutions.