Memory as medicine

“I’m real proud of Stumptown, I know I’m a long way from Stumptown but I can’t forget, that’s my roots. That’s my roots.” – Sophie Dixon, Montford & Stumptown Stories

Crystal Sherriff (ABCLT), Sophie Dixon, Ami Worthen at the WRES studio (Photo: STM Multimedia)

Memory as medicine. The balm of remembering infuses the three new episodes of the Montford & Stumptown Stories docuseries (out today). They feature tender, loving, joyful recollections of Stumptown from sisters Martha, Mary, and Bessie Brown; and Sophie Dixon.

It is an honor to collaborate with STM Multimedia and Major Moments to preserve such stories. Many thanks to Alternate ROOTS, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Preservation Society of Asheville & Buncombe County for their support. Don’t miss watching these sweet videos.

Bessie, Martha, and Mary Brown in the former Welfare Baptist Church, now a private residence (Photo: Ami Worthen)

In addition to supporting the Montford & Stumptown Fund of ABCLT, we’re partnering with the Historic Stumptown Neighborhood Association in documenting their stories to inform the creation and installation of signage honoring Stumptown as an historically Black neighborhood.

Hopefully this can also happen in other parts of Montford, such as around Magnolia Park. And that signage will be supported by inclusive neighborhood narratives.

Martha, Mary, and Bessie Brown in front of the former Welfare Baptist Church building (1931), with a group photo from the 1997 Stumptown Reunion (Photo: Ami Worthen)

Ms. Bessie, who is a current Stumptown resident, wants signage in her neighborhood because, “it would mean we wouldn’t be forgotten. Because they have signs in other communities about their communities, it’s like we’ve been forgotten over the years.”

Sophie Dixon, Ami Worthen (Garnet Prose + Projects), and Jeff DeLeon (Major Moments) at the WRES studio (Photo: STM Multimedia)

Ms. Sophie advised that multiple signs be created, like in Shiloh, to better capture different pieces of the history. We’ll keep you posted as this project unfolds.

Living nearby, it is particularly important to me that the story of Stumptown be celebrated and commemorated. As is reparative action in response to the incalculable harm that was done by systems designed so communities like Stumptown could not flourish and sustain. 

We know some action steps to start with. 

“As far as reparations to me, it would be what can we do to make it better for our children, not so much what can I get out of it. That would be my hope to see,” says Ms. Sophie.

More soon, in the meantime, here are some historic Stumptown photos:

Children of Clayton Ware, Sr. and Vivian Wilson Ware, Ms. Sophie on the left (Courtesy of Sophie Dixon)
Sophie Dixon (left) and a friend at the 1997 Stumptown Reunion. The church bus is parked in the area where the City promised Stumptown a park which never came to fruition. (Courtesy of Sophie Dixon)
Rev. Posey, Mr. Howard, and child at Welfare Baptist Church, 1961 (Courtesy of Bessie Brown Joyce)
Welfare Baptist Church, 2011 (Buncombe County Special Collections)

You can see more photos in the Montford & Stumptown Stories docuseries.

Love to all.

Martha and Mary’s feet (Photo: Ami Worthen)
Sophie Dixon and Ami Worthen (Photo: STM Multimedia)

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One thought on “Memory as medicine

  1. Thank you for sharing these stories. Are you OK with me including references to this work in one or more of the e-newsletters I edit? If desired, I can share a draft of what I would include to you (or others) ahead of time to make sure what I write comes across in a way that supports this work.


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