Students gathered Thursday to start a new discussion about the monument known as “Silent Sam.”
The statue at UNC-Chapel Hill has been the subject of many debates in the nearly 100 years it has stood in the center of McCorkle Place.
For the passer-by or new student, the statue overlooking Franklin Street may appear to be of little significance, but some of those who know the statue’s history say it is a misrepresentation of students and the community.
The Real Silent Sam movement hopes to spark dialogue and provoke critical thought about the meanings behind the monuments and buildings of Chapel Hill. It hopes to provide the public with information that goes beyond standard narratives.
Silent Sam was erected in 1913 as a monument to the alumni and students who fought and died in the Confederate Army.
Julian Carr, a veteran of the Confederate Army, gave a speech at the statue’s unveiling on June 2, 1913, in which he credited the Confederate soldiers with preserving the Anglo Saxon people.
Although it was not the sole purpose of the memorial to support the white supremacist movement, that was a part of it, said Aleck Stephens, an alumnus of UNC-CH and part of The Real Silent Sam movement.
Members of The Real Silent Sam movement have lots of opinions about what should be done about the statue.
Some think it should be removed.
Others say it should be relocated to the Old Chapel Hill cemetery.
Some have advocated adding a new statue of equal size that better represents the diverse character of the university, or adding a plaque to the current statue that describes the historical context in which it was created.
At the end of Thursday’s gathering, a temporary sign was taped to Silent Sam that reads, in part:
“This memorial to Confederate soldiers who left the university perpetuates an incomplete and inaccurate history–one that intentionally neglects the vast number of North Carolinians who opposed secession and the Confederacy. The original supporters of this monument, both town and university leaders, were motivated by racism and were colluders in a statewide campaign to establish white dominance.”