Letters to the Editor

Silent Sam is offensive in more ways than one

UNC-Chapel Hill student Maya Little, center, pours a mixture of her own blood and paint on the Silent Sam Confederate statue in defiance of a UNC-Chapel Hill police officer's order to stop on April 30. Little was arrested.
UNC-Chapel Hill student Maya Little, center, pours a mixture of her own blood and paint on the Silent Sam Confederate statue in defiance of a UNC-Chapel Hill police officer's order to stop on April 30. Little was arrested. Adam Lau for The News & Observer

Silent Sam ‘offensive’

Regarding “Words didn't work, so protester took action against statue” (May 4): During student body president Ford Runge’s administration at UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1970s, I became the first black student body secretary. My godparents were faculty members Blyden and Roberta Jackson. They and my parents encouraged me to be involved in campus activities.

I write today, nearly 45 years later, to encourage current students to be involved in a campus matter. Write to your state legislators to express your concern that a statue is miring the reputation of our great institution of higher learning.

When I was a student, the disparaging saying was: “When a virgin walks by, Silent Sam will fire his weapon.” In this current era of #Metoo, ask the North Carolina General Assembly to remove the statue now. Legislators cannot be silent too when the statue has been so offensive for so long in so many ways to so many.

Evelyn Dove-Coleman


Use natural energy

Regarding “Sounding an alarm about fracked gas” (May 6): Bravo to Ned Barnett. Facts are indeed stubborn things. But I am so happy to see that Barnett has taken the time to research the facts about methane, fracking and the false narrative about the superiority of natural gas. Here in our “Good Old North State” we are blessed with the ability to harvest so many forms of truly natural energy.

Imagine too a manufacturing, installation and servicing sector devoted to solar, wind or even wave or geothermal energy systems. North Carolina has everything we need to become a leader. Staying tethered to fossil fuels in any form might mean a big profit margin for Duke Energy, but there is a triple bottom line for a truly evolved from of capitalism that includes profits, but also people and the planet.

Vonna Viglione


Cursive importance

Regarding “Teaching cursive not among our top problems” (May 7): I concur that a lot more needs to be accomplished in our legislature to further the education of all students in North Carolina. The cursive mandate is an interesting one to take issue with.

The statement that most adults no longer use cursive is somewhat misdirected. A lot of folks are still alive that don’t use computer communication or texting. What if you wish to read the Declaration of Independence in its original autograph? I, for one, still write, not print. I have penned correspondence to younger persons and they have asked that I print because they cannot read what I have written.

What cursive really teaches is personal discipline. How to correctly form letters and punctuation with your hands. Not relying on a machine or the more archaic printing you may have learned in 1st grade. You need to learn how to control your hands before you can control any of the rest of you.

If teachers would spend more time teaching the things that really mature students, we wouldn’t have time for protests about anything. And that is really what a good education contains. Truth to avoid consequences.

Stephen Trexler


Statue history

I thoroughly enjoyed “Washington statue’s replica gives a glimpse at glory of the original” (May 5) about the Canova statue of George Washington. One person who did not think highly of it was Chief Justice John Marshall.

A fellow traveler recounts crossing paths with the chief justice in 1826 on his way to Raleigh to convene the North Carolina Circuit Court. Marshall stated that he was sure it was a masterpiece and he was glad the country had “a specimen of art of so high an order.” However, “it gave no impressions of Washington, it was not like him in any respect whatever.”

The Chief Justice knew Washington well, having served on his staff during the Revolutionary War and written his official biography. He much preferred the Houdon statue of Washington in the State House of Virginia.

Incidentally, it is a little known fact of North Carolina judicial history that the chief justice was a regular visitor here for 32 years, coming twice annually to Raleigh to preside over the North Carolina Circuit Court. He tried a fascinating array of largely unknown cases, and I have just had a law review article accepted for publication beginning to tell this story.

Rich Leonard

Dean, Campbell Law