Log in Newsletter

THE KIRBY FILE: Retired chaplain calls for removal of slogans around the Market House in the name of community unity


“They have served their purpose,” the Rev. Archie Barringer tells Mayor Mitch Colvin and the City Council about the murals encircling the Market House roundabout. “They’ve run their course. I think that everyone has gotten the message.”

Archie Barringer was succinct and forthcoming Monday night in City Hall telling Mayor Mitch Colvin and the Fayetteville City Council that it is time and past time to remove “Black Lives Do Matter” and “End Racism Now,” the yellow-painted messages that encircle the inner lane around the Market House.

He spoke with a passion.

He spoke with a conviction.

“Mister Mayor and members of City Council, I come before you tonight humbly requesting the slogans around the Market House to be removed,” Barringer, a 73-year-old retired chaplain, would say at this council meeting. “They have served their purpose. They’ve run their course. I think that everyone has gotten the message.”

The murals have been there since June of 2020 in the wake of May 30 of that year, when provocateurs and protesters shattered windows and damaged the historic downtown landmark at a cost of more than $84,000, according to the city, in protest of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Two of the provocateurs also set fire to the stairwell of the structure leading to the second floor.

The Market House, where history tells us some Black men were sold in the 1800s, has since become a polarizing site for the Black community since the death of Floyd, as it was for some before Floyd died. Many called for its demolition or relocation, although the council in April of 2021 voted 9-1 to repurpose the building after the issue was addressed by the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission with assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice and community residents. Once repurposed, the structure will be a place of  education telling the story of the Market House, including a plaque to tell its history with full disclosure.

The inscriptions, Barringer said, are a painful reminder of not only the 1800s when slaves were sold there, but on that May 30, 2020, Saturday when angry protestors left a rally on Skibo Road and later converged on the Market House before many took their anger to Cross Creek Mall, where there was more violence, including the beating of a newspaper reporter. 

It was an ugly night.

It was a traumatic night.

It was a violent and destructive night that would lead to city curfews, community tension and racial unrest to include further rallies with fish fries and pizza boxes strewn all over the roundabout, and ultimately with the City Council voting to commission the painted slogans in what was to be a temporary mural.

"When we say 'Black Lives Matter,' that doesn't mean other lives don't matter,” District 2 City Councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram told WTVD News Channel 11 in June of 2020. “Doesn't mean white lives, Hispanic lives don't matter. It means from the beginning of time, Black lives have been the most marginalized lives in the country.”

Fair enough, Miss Ingram.

But …

“They represent a sad era in our city’s history,” Barringer said about the slogans that wrap around the Market House. “But it is now a new day. And we need a new move on with words that we can all agree with. We need to move on with words like love, unity, harmony and respect for each other. We are an All-America City, which means that we should be an example to other cities and be inclusive of all people. We host an annual international festival with people participating from all races, colors and creeds.

“There is no Jew. The is no Greek. There is no gentile.

“There is no Black and there is no white,” Barringer said. “God sees us all the same.”

All of us, he would say, should follow suit.

‘Let the healing now begin’

“We are a city of history, heroes and a hometown feeling,” Barringer said. “History, yes. Heroes for sure. A hometown feeling? Well, I’m not so sure of that anymore.”

For whatever the divide among race, perceived or real, he said we only can bridge that breach by joining with one another for a better today and a better tomorrow.

“We must all be proactive against prejudice, and we must all work together to eradicate the evil and the inequality that exists between white people and Black people,” Barringer said. “And let us do so by removing those divisive slogans that bring to mind discrimination every time I go around that Market House. They remind me of discrimination and detracts from our diversity.”

The preacher would cast his eyes directly toward Mitch Colvin.

“Mister Mayor, Fayetteville is fractured,” Barringer said. “Let the healing now begin. I’m looking for more in 2024. I hope that you are, too. United, we stand. Divided, we fall. We are stronger together. Mister Mayor, if you can agree with these concepts of what I have said here this evening in this brief period of time, I would like to come forward, shake your hand and let us agree to begin to work together for change in 2024.”

Archie Barringer is as passionate about his call as he was when resigning in 2008 as chaplain at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Ramsey Street, when images of Jesus were removed from the chapel as well as Christian crosses on the pews. And just as passionate as he was in 2013 in calling for the state to erect an enclosed committal structure for families attending funerals for veterans at the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery.

A majority of council members avoid any conversation of the inscriptions around the Market House or their removal.

Councilwoman Kathy Keefe Jensen says a plan “is coming in the next two weeks.” Councilman Deno Hondros says he has been told a plan will be discussed in January. Councilwoman-elect Lynne Bissette Greene says she leans toward removal of the murals and Councilman-elect Malik Davis says he can’t provide an answer for now.


The Market House stood dark and silent Monday night. We’ve avoided it like the plague since May 30, 2020, event to the point of failing to light it pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and for the annual A Dickens Holiday. Downtown is decorated already, but not a single holiday candle in the Market House windows or Christmas wreaths.

Barringer said it right Monday night.

“Everyone has gotten the message.”

We like to call ourselves “America’s Can Do City.” Divided, in the words of Archie Barringer, we can’t. Together, in Archie Barringer’s words, we can, and some of us believe Fayetteville will be the better for it.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Kirby Fayetteville