Opinion

Make Silent Sam a teaching moment at UNC

Protesters march and call for professors to strike against BOT recommendation for Silent Sam

Several hundred people protested in Chapel Hill on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, to oppose the recommendation made by the UNC Board of Trustees to build a new $5.3 million building on campus for the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam.
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Several hundred people protested in Chapel Hill on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, to oppose the recommendation made by the UNC Board of Trustees to build a new $5.3 million building on campus for the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam.

The decision to retain Silent Sam in a $5.3 million campus history center is one of legal compliance.

There’s no doubt of Silent Sam’s significance as an honor for veterans, a historical artifact of the South’s heritage and our past. And present, of the political schism that currently cripples our republic. And future, of the citizenry we want to be. History is our context.

I hope UNC will display Silent Sam, as is, askew. Surround the statue with its century-long story: the 1913 erection by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a transcript of Julian Carr’s address, the banners protestors used to shield the statue as it was severed, and the civil disobedience that gave Silent Sam relevance in 2018. All of this is history.

Silent Sam’s fallen remains provide an allegory to the defeated Confederacy and the symbolic gesture of a young generation speaking out against our nation’s racist heritage. For UNC, it could be a deeply personal teaching moment.

Vincent Chung

Raleigh

Methods matter

When protesters tore Silent Sam down they made a statement: white supremacy has no place in North Carolina. I agree with what was said, but not how it was said. How we work towards justice matters, both to those whom you agree with and those whom you do not. The latter now see real people working towards racial equality as vandals.

Maybe Sam could’ve stayed, with transcript of the racist 1913 speech published in front, and across new statues honoring former slaves, and celebrating alumni of color. And then, $5.3 million could go to establish a scholarship fund for descendants of former slaves.

But no, protesters pulled him down, polarizing even farther the deeply divided sides, creating a martyr. Change requires time, and change aimed towards reconciliation requires more. It’s easy to complain, and with enough people it’s actually pretty easy to remove a statue. But it is hard to fight for justice with the goal of relationship building and reconciliation.

As an N.C. State grad raised in Raleigh and now living in Georgia, with friends and relatives on both sides of the issue, I hope we can do the hard relational work and build a brighter future for North Carolina, rather than simply tearing the old and dark one down.

Lucas Jones

Atlanta

Out of sight

I believe insanity is prevalent at UNC including its board of trustees, chancellor, students and faculty. They’re going to pay their ex- football coach about $12 million. They hired an old football coach at $3.5 million. Now they want to spend $5.3 million for a building to put an old confederate statue in.

Put Silent Sam where he was. Build a 25-foot-wall around it. If you want to look at it go inside. If it offends you, ignore it.

Hylton Lawrence

Dunn

Painful reminder

Imagine someone commits a heinous crime against your family, for example, murder. Then imagine years later that same perpetrator is given a statue, and pays for a statue to honor the same view point that inspired the murder.

Then imagine you need to walk by the statue every day. Think that people years later will rally to defend this statue, even when they know what it represents. Now imagine the statue is given a building, and a college will spend millions of dollars to protect this statue. How would you feel?

That is what many feel when they think of Silent Sam. How is this making our community better? If we were truly to remember our history, we would remember that the Confederates fought to own slaves and raped and killed them. That should not be given a million dollar temple.

Shana Carroll

Durham

Building ready

Regarding “UNC officials recommend $5.3 million new building on campus for Silent Sam” (Dec. 4), UNC already has the perfect building: the Dean Dome. The Dean Dome is the very center of UNC’s racial stereotyping that black students are there only to play ball, not for real academics.

Marcus Henry

Reidsville

Artistic opportunity

My opinion is that UNC’s Fine Arts should be given the opportunity to incorporate him into a larger work: the winds of change, monotone to diverse and living color, weapons to plowshares. A true masterpiece could emerge. Come on UNC — let loose some of your creative and brilliant minds on Sam!

Karen Gaither

Raleigh

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