July 16—HIGH POINT — A city commission has drawn up its plan to delve into High Point’s history before making the case for repairs.
The One High Point Commission, at its July 7 meeting, set up three committees, one of which will tackle research and fact-finding – from the era of slavery to times more recent.
“I think the data and the research will allow us to go back a bit and see a lot more of where we are today,” said Commission Vice-Chair Courtney Alston Wilson. “I also want to look at industrial enterprise – High Point as the furniture capital of the world – and exclusion, and how we as African Americans don’t have a footprint, except for the sweat.”
The commission was created by the city council and held its first meeting in June. He is responsible for studying and documenting the extent of slavery and segregation in High Point and the role the city may have played in sanctioning both. He will recommend possible remedies to the council which could include a formal city apology and “indemnities”.
Another committee will handle public relations, which could include things like tracing lineage to help identify those the commission is trying to help.
“Community outreach is critically important,” Commissioner Dawn Alston Paige said, “especially in the beginning, where we should be focusing a lot, I think, on lineage tracing workshops. “
This committee will also explore ways to solicit public input and options for public outreach on the commission’s work.
A third committee is entitled budget and finance.
The commission’s research should encompass a range of topics, other members said.
“I think we would need a criminal justice component,” Commissioners Chuck Hinsley said. “I think since the creation of our ancestors who were enslaved Africans, this resulted in a form of penal control that still exists today through mass incarceration. And this has permeated our culture and our community in a very unfavorable way. I think that would be an aspect of research that needs to be prominent in what we do.”
The commission may seek to establish sub-committees that may be interested in other topics, based on its research.
“I know we are looking at slavery and its impact over time,” Commissioner Lovelle McMichael said. “But also, can we look at the impact of African Americans on building that community and how over time that was taken away from them? Because, I feel like after slavery , when we do research we are going to see that there is an impact that will be a direct result of slavery but will not be during slavery so these sub-committees can be formed that will allow us to inform our work.
The commission has until June 2023 to present its recommendations to council. Chairman Joe Alston said he could request an extension, if necessary.