Letters to the Editor

09/25 – What you’re saying on Silent Sam and the Durham Confederate monument

A pivotal moment

An open letter to the Durham County Board of Commissioners:

It is our understanding that the county commissioners have been asked to provide the District Attorney’s office with an assigned value for the Confederate statue that was removed by protesters last month. On behalf of the People’s Alliance Board & Race Equity team, we are asking you each to make the following public commitments in advance of your Sept. 25th meeting:

▪ Value the statue at zero dollars because, while the estimated cost of replacement may be higher, the harms to the community presented by the symbolism of the statue give it no value;

▪ Not replace the confederate statue; and

▪ Ask the district attorney to not require the protestors to pay restitution.

If you cannot make all or any these commitments, we ask that you please provide an explanation for us to share with our membership.

The People’s Alliance (PA) has been working for over four decades to build a more just and equitable Durham, and our members elect leaders who we believe represent PA’s vision. As we previously shared with you, the PA views the removal of the Confederate statue an act of civil disobedience by activists committed to dismantling white supremacy and removing symbols of hate. This action has created a pivotal moment for us all to choose how we will respond and for our elected officials to choose how they will lead.

When the PA members endorsed each of you for the county board, it was with the belief that you would take bold progressive leadership and stand on the side of justice and equity. We view this as a pivotal moment for you to display this leadership.

Submitted by Magan Gonzales Thigpen, president, on behalf of the People’s Alliance Board & Race Equity Team

Folt failing

While we understand that UNC may not have unilateral authority to move Silent Sam, we do expect Chancellor Folt, as the leading representative of our UNC community, to vigorously advocate for the removal of Silent Sam and publicly acknowledge the statue’s connection to both white supremacy and racism. Every day that she continues not to do so, she is failing us.

The latest example of Chancellor Folt’s failure regarding Silent Sam is the fact that UNC did not petition the N.C. Historical Commission, prior to Friday’s meeting, for permission to remove Silent Sam from campus. UNC could have petitioned the Historical Commission, and should have done so. And Chancellor Folt should have been out front, leading the effort.

It is because of the failed leadership of Chancellor Folt and the UNC administration that we are urging all people of conscience to boycott UNC from now until Oct. 18. By withdrawing our financial support, we can show the UNC administration that we are absolutely serious when we say we expect them to vigorously advocate for the immediate removal of that racist statue from our campus.

Michelle Brown, Alexander Peeples, Jordan Stinnett, Ruthie Allen, Laleh Emadi, Miah Pankey, Hailey Mason, Altha Cravey and Heather Hboro

Chapel Hill