Why Did U.N.C. Give Millions to a Neo-Confederate Group?Roundup
tags: education, academia, University of North Carolina, UNC, neoconfederacy
Dr. Sturkey is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Late in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Eve, the board of the University of North Carolina System announced that it would give $2.5 million to a neo-Confederate organization to acquire and house a monument known as “Silent Sam.”
The monument, topped by a statue of a Confederate soldier carrying a rifle, was erected at the entrance of the University of North Carolina campus here in 1913. A manifestation of simplistic nostalgia for Southern white supremacy, it was one of scores of such monuments erected at the height of the Jim Crow era, and it was paid for by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and university benefactors. At the dedication, one speaker celebrated the Ku Klux Klan and bragged that he had “horsewhipped a Negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds.”
After years of protest, Silent Sam was pulled off its pedestal during a rally in August 2018. Since then, the university has hidden the statue in a secret location. The Daughters of the Confederacy recently handed over ownership to the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans, which made clear that it intended to sue the university for control of the statue. Before it could, several members of the university system’s board, each appointed by the conservative state legislature, announced that not only would the group get the statue, but it would also get access to $2.5 million to be placed in a trust for the “care and preservation of the monument.”
The board, and the university, claim that the settlement avoids a nasty legal battle and ensures that Silent Sam will no longer sit on school grounds. But legal details aside, how do you make a deal with a group that valorizes something so morally abhorrent as the Confederacy?
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