The Senate of the Undergraduate Student Government and the Senate of The Graduate and Professional Student Federation of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill write to express their profound disappointment in the lack of action on the part of the General Assembly, Board of Governors, and the Board of Trustees to remove the Silent Sam monument from its location in McCorkle Place. The student body believes that the monument should be moved to another site on campus where it can be better contextualized. The removal of the statue from McCorkle Place in the heart of the UNC campus will also symbolize Carolina’s commitment to inclusivity of students of diverse backgrounds.
The majority of the student body wants the removal of the monument for the following reasons:
- In his dedication speech1 for the monument, Julian Carr made clear that the statue is not solely meant to memorialize North Carolina Confederate war veterans, but to celebrate the United States’ system of institutionalized slavery, discrimination, and racially-motivated violence. During the course of his speech, Julian Carr endorsed the Confederate cause in the Civil War by characterizing it as primarily a white supremacist project, stating “The present generation, I am persuaded, scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo Saxon race during the four years immediately succeeding the war, when the facts are, that their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South.” He also shared an anecdote that graphically described violence he personally perpetrated against a black woman, describing his actions as a “pleasing duty.”
- The names of the alumni of UNC who died fighting for the Union, as well as the Confederacy, are listed on the Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service2. This memorial in front of Memorial Hall is a moving testimony to the heroism of those who fought to preserve the rule of law and died defending their country. The Silent Sam monument does not memorialize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America, but rather stands as a sentinel, facing due north in defense of the largest rebellion to occur in American history.
- Many of our peer institutions, including the University of Texas at Austin3, the University of Louisville4, and Duke University5, have recently chosen to remove Confederate memorials from public spaces on campus. These memorials will be preserved in museums or in libraries to protect the memorials, but also to provide necessary historical context for the erection of the monuments. With the resources of UNC’s excellent library system, the Silent Sam memorial could be cared for and used as a valuable teaching resource.
The student body of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill does not wish to wipe out our history, but we also do not want to see racism celebrated. The Silent Sam monument was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy not only to memorialize the dead, but also to celebrate a way of life that resulted in the degradation and violence towards thousands of North Carolinians. We encourage you to remove the monument so that it can be preserved and contextualized for future North Carolinians in a museum or library collection while making it clear that we do not glorify our violent past.
Elizabeth Adkins, Student Body President and Chair of the Joint Council
Madelyn Percy, Graduate and Professional Student Federation President
Brian Coussens, Graduate and Professional Student Federation Vice President
Katharine Shriver, Chair of the 99th Undergraduate Senate
1https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/files/original/c1160e4341b86794b7e842cb042fb414.pdf, accessed 25 August 2017
2http://www.unc.edu/interactive-tour/landmarks/carolina-alumni-memorial-in-memory-of-those-lost-in-service/, accessed 27 August 2017