Letters to the Editor

Clergy say returning Silent Sam to same spot would affirm white supremacy

To the Chapel Hill and UNC community:

We are faith leaders in Chapel Hill. Though we come from diverse traditions, we share the belief that every human being is created in the Divine image, and an attack on another’s humanity is an affront to God.

We have come together to consider “Silent Sam,” and the activities around it; and we ask that you consider its history and context as well: During the period of Jim Crow, over 700 Confederate monuments were erected over the American South; 51 of these were erected in North Carolina. They were put in place specifically to promote white supremacy.

At the dedication of Silent Sam in 1913, Julian Carr, a confederate veteran and UNC trustee, stated the statue was dedicated to all alumni who fought for the Confederacy — the living as well as the dead, and most especially to the veterans who waged the postwar campaign to re-establish government by and for whites only. Those men, he said, “saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race.”

There are monuments to honor fallen soldiers, and there are monuments to causes and beliefs. Those two purposes are entwined and embodied in Silent Sam.

We support efforts to establish monuments in memory of all soldiers and veterans; we also believe that monuments created to idealize and promote white supremacy deny the humanity of people of color generally, and African Americans specifically.

While members of this group differ regarding the action which brought the statue down, we all hold that returning Silent Sam to its previous location furthers the goal of those who originally put it there: venerating white supremacy, and denigrating people of color.

We encourage our local and state governments to find new ways to recognize the complex nature of our history, to honor those who died fighting — but not the profane, dehumanizing cause for which they fought.

The Rev. Sarah Ball-Damberg, Church of the Holy Family (Episcopal)

The Rev. Cameron S. Barr, Senior Pastor United Church of Chapel Hill

The Rev. Thom Belote, The Community Church of Chapel Hill, Unitarian Universalist

The Rev. Hillary Bergman Cheek, University Presbyterian Church

The Rev. Daniel Childs, University United Methodist Church

Pastor Maythel Clemons, Abundant Life Faith Ministry

Reverend Justin Coleman, University United Methodist Church

Dr. Rodney L. Coleman, First Baptist Church

Dr. Michael A. Cousin, Pastor St. Paul AME Church

Reverend J. Mark Davidson, Pastor Church of Reconciliation Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Rabbi Jen Feldman, Kehillah Synagogue

Reverend Kate Fiedler, University Presbyterian Church

The Rev. Lisa G. Fischbeck, The Episcopal Church of the Advocate

Rev. Heather Thomas Folliard, Associate Pastor HillSong Church

The Rev. Dr. Clarke French, Church of the Holy Family (Episcopal)

The Rev. Paige Hanks, The Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church

Rev. Kristen Hanna, Associate Pastor Christ United Methodist Church

Bishop Gene Hatley, Senior Pastor Barbee’s Chapel Harvest World Church and Ministries

Rev. Suzanne Hultman, Associate Pastor Christ United Methodist Church

The Rev. Nathan E. Kirkpatrick, Priest Associate The Episcopal Church of the Advocate

The Rev. Tambria Lee, The Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church

The Rev. Dr. Marcus McFaul ,Senior Minister Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church

Ian Carr McPherson, Minister for Youth and Young Adult Initiatives United Church of Chapel Hill

Rev. David Mateo, United Church of Chapel Hill

The Rev. Elizabeth Marie Melchionna The Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church

The Rev. Dr. William H. Morley The Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church

Rev. Maria T. Palmer Binkley Baptist Church

The Reverend John B. Rogers University Presbyterian Church

Pastor Will Rose Holy Trinity Lutheran

Mike Shannon Pastor Chapel Hill Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rabbi Melissa Simon Senior Jewish Educator UNC Hillel

Dr. Mitchell Simpson, Pastor University Baptist Church

Rev. Susan Steinberg United Church of Chapel Hill Bishop

Brian D. Tolbert Jr. First Church of God Christian Fellowship Inc.

The Rev. Margaret LaMotte Torrence Interim Pastor University Presbyterian Church

Dr. Charlie Williams Hickory Grove Baptist Church Pastor

Ben Williams Christ United Methodist Church

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