Local News

Fayetteville City Council votes to reinstall "Black Lives Do Matter" historic Market House

Posted January 27, 2021 5:33 a.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2021 2:27 p.m. EST

— The Fayetteville Market House used to be the symbol of the city. But in recent years, its dark history of being a place where enslaved people were sold has turned it into a center of controversy.

It was set on fire shortly after the death of George Floyd. It was occupied by those seeking social and racial change. It was surrounded by a "Black Lives Do Matter" mural.

Now, the Fayetteville City Council is trying to decide what to do with it.

"Recently, we've talked about relocation of the Market House," said Mayor Mitch Colvin.

At Wednesday night's council meeting, they will look into how much it would cost to move the building or repurpose the building – and whether or not either of those options are possible.

Colvin hopes the discussion will include individuals who have differing opinions about what should be done with the Fayetteville Market House.

“We know that there are passionate people on both sides of this," said Colvin. "Half of the community wants to see it destroyed. A portion of the community wants it preserved. We need to strike a balance."

He said he hopes to come to a decision that the community can stand behind.

"Whatever it is, we're a community that can pull everything back together and we can live together going forward," he said.

Colvin says he also plans to have a representative from the US Justice department who deals with healing racial divides in cities across the country come and speak with council members.

Members of the public share their suggestions

Colvin has made a call for the community to share their suggestions and thoughts about the future of the historic, yet controversial building.

"It's a symbol of divisiveness, so the more that they mess with it and bring up the subject, the more divisiveness it creates," said Rakeem Jones, a resident of Fayetteville. "Just leave it alone. This thing's been here forever."

Another resident, Diane Parfitt, said she would like to see the 200-year-old building repurposed for something that would bring the community together.

"I think something highlighting the historic African American people from our history here in Fayetteville," she said.

What will happen to the Black Lives Matter mural?

The circular mural reading "Black Lives Matter. End Racism Now" was painted around the building last year following protests related to George Floyd's death.

Black Lives Matter mural to encircle historic Fayetteville Market House

The mural, which was meant to be temporary, was removed in early January just days after the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Multiple downtown residents and businesses spoke to WRAL News, saying it was wrong for the city to remove the slogans, especially given the current political climate.

The city is soliciting bids to restore the mural.

The original cost in the summer of 2020 was $5,250. The cost to remove it was $4,950.

Once a vendor or artist(s) are selected, the installation timeline is subject to the weather.

Colvin admits the city made a mistake removing those words just before Dr Martin Luther King Jr's birthday and the start of Black History Month in February.

Colvin wants a permanent space to mark the city's commitment to social change and racial justice – like the spaces in cities like Atlanta and Washington, DC.

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