Orange County

UNC-related groups demand Silent Sam statue be removed immediately.

Confederate flags frame the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam during a rally on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill in this Oct. 25, 2015 file photo.
Confederate flags frame the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam during a rally on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill in this Oct. 25, 2015 file photo. newsobserver.com

A letter titled “Statement on Silent Sam” signed by five organizations including Black Congress, UNControllables, UNC NAACP, Campus Y and UNC QTPOC released late Thursday demanded the immediate removal of the Silent Sam Confederate memorial monument on the UNC Chapel Hill campus.

The letter, emailed at 9 p.m. Thursday, was addressed to UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, Gov. Roy Cooper, the UNC Board of Governors and Board of Trustees and the North Carolina Historical Commission.

“We have voiced our concerns countless times and we are no longer asking — Silent Sam must come down NOW,” the letter states. “Erected as a method of white supremacist intimidation to keep oppressed groups from fighting to reclaim their humanity during the Civil Rights Era, Silent Sam stands tall and proud on our campus. The Unsung Founders monument, commissioned as a response to the controversy of Silent Sam to honor the Black bodies who built this University, now operates as a picnic table in Sam’s shadow.”

The statement continues:

“Silent Sam is more than just a statue, it is an idealistic representation of a fictionalized “southern” heritage. Silent Sam sends a concrete message that the UNC-Chapel Hill administration values upholding “white supremacy and wealthy white donors over the safety of its students of color.

“The University’s claims of prioritizing student safety and protection are deceptive. As the events of Charlottesville and Durham have shown, confederate statues have become a symbol and rallying point for white supremacists, neo-nazis and alt-right organizations.

“UNC continues to call itself a university devoid of these hate groups, but it is impossible to police or protect the statue without empowering precisely those people. Minority students walk on this campus in fear. The longer UNC waits to remove Sam, the more compelling this open invitation to white supremacist groups will become.

“The national tragedy that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer and the hospitalization of more than a dozen individuals is not isolated to Charlottesville. The alt right took to Charlottesville and UVA because of similarities, namely the presence of a confederate statue, that are present at this institution. Students, workers and community members will continue to rise up until that statue is removed. Chapel Hill is Charlottesville.

“We are your students and constituents. We are the would-be members of the so-called “Carolina community.” We have asked over and over again, and now we are no longer asking. We, your students, are saying: take down this monument to white supremacy NOW — not eventually, not in the indefinite future, but IMMEDIATELY.

“This is our promise: in the wake of administrative inaction, this community will continue to act and fight every single day until Silent Sam is taken down — one way or another. Until there is justice, there will not be peace.

“Your move, UNC. Who are you protecting?”

Text of letter

Following is the complete text of the letter sent to UNC officials and Gov. Roy Cooper Thursday night:

STATEMENT ON SILENT SAM

To Chancellor Folt, Gov. Roy Cooper, the Board of Governors, Board of Trustees and the North Carolina Historical Commission:

We have voiced our concerns countless times and we are no longer asking — Silent Sam must come down NOW.

Erected as a method of white supremacist intimidation to keep oppressed groups from fighting to reclaim their humanity during the Civil Rights Era, Silent Sam stands tall and proud on our campus. The Unsung Founders monument, commissioned as a response to the controversy of Silent Sam to honor the Black bodies who built this University, now operates as a picnic table in Sam’s shadow.

Silent Sam is more than just a statue, it is an idealistic representation of a fictionalized “southern” heritage. Silent Sam sends a concrete message that the UNC-Chapel Hill administration values upholding white supremacy and wealthy white donors over the safety of its students of color.

The University’s claims of prioritizing student safety and protection are deceptive. As the events of Charlottesville and Durham have shown, confederate statues have become a symbol and rallying point for white supremacists, neo-nazis and alt-right organizations.

UNC continues to call itself a university devoid of these hate groups, but it is impossible to police or protect the statue without empowering precisely those people. Minority students walk on this campus in fear. The longer UNC waits to remove Sam, the more compelling this open invitation to white supremacist groups will become.

The national tragedy that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer and the hospitalization of more than a dozen individuals is not isolated to Charlottesville. The alt right took to Charlottesville and UVA because of similarities, namely the presence of a confederate statue, that are present at this institution. Students, workers and community members will continue to rise up until that statue is removed. Chapel Hill is Charlottesville.

We are your students and constituents. We are the would-be members of the so-called “Carolina community.” We have asked over and over again, and now we are no longer asking. We, your students, are saying: take down this monument to white supremacy NOW — not eventually, not in the indefinite future, but IMMEDIATELY.

This is our promise: in the wake of administrative inaction, this community will continue to act and fight every single day until Silent Sam is taken down — one way or another. Until there is justice, there will not be peace.

Your move, UNC. Who are you protecting?

Signed,

Black Congress

UNControllables

UNC NAACP

Campus Y

UNC QTPOC

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