FAYETTEVILLE -- A Fayetteville lawyer wants the city he calls home to make a big change.
Allen Rogers - a prominent African-American attorney - wants the Market House symbol removed from the city logo due to ties to slave sales.
Rogers wrote a letter to city leaders asking that the Market House be removed from the city's official logo. It read: "... Given the mood of the country in the midst of this tragic incident in Charleston; Fayetteville needs to rebrand itself and remove the Market House from its official logo. The Market House continues to be extremely divisive and offensive to many in our community. While the plaque affixed to it may offer a small measure of honor for the sacrifices of those sold there, this massive center piece poorly reflects the heart of this All American City."
Bruce Daws, Fayetteville's official historian, said the Market House is Cumberland County's only national landmark. He said the Market House was built in 1832 as a town hall over an open air market and square where everything from livestock to firewood was sold. Daws said it was one of several places where slaves were sold in the city.
"Slaves were sold in the square pursuant to indebtedness or estate liquidation for the most part," Daws said. "It was not a slave market. Slave markets were built to sell slaves. A slave market is built for the slave trade, and that was not. It was built as a market place."
A brass marker under the Market House now pays tribute to slaves sold there.
In a statement sent to the media Wednesday, City Councilman Chalmers McDougald (District 4) said "the Market House has been the subject of considerable controversy, and is divisive and hurtful to many of our people."
McDougald said he has been having private conversations with other council members to try and build consensus about changing the logo and said he regrets those conversations have been "prematurely" disclosed.
"We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here. The debate over the Market House can continue in private. However, whether the Market House continues to be the official symbol of the City of Fayetteville is different. The Market House, while an integral part of our City's past, does not represent the future of our City," he said.
Click here to read the entire statement (.pdf)
For three years now, Jay Boykin, an African-American, has operated his barber shop in the shadow of the Market House.
"I see a representation of where we have come from. From our past to the future," he said. "It's been there," he said. "It doesn't bother me. It doesn't bother a lot of people, but there is the other side."
Others in the community, including Antonio Melvin, who is a high school football player, said it's a part of the community, and has its own place in history.
"A place where people come to see and enjoy to take pictures," said Melvin. "It's a part of history."
A senior city council member said he favors the formation of a group who could make an unbiased timeline of Market House history for council members to review.
In an email to ABC11, Rogers said he and local NAACP officials are waiting on the city's decision before making any public comment about his request.