Darby: There’s No Moral Ambiguity on Why Confederate Monuments Were Erected

By Joseph A. Darby

The following is an excerpt of an article that was originally published on the Post and Courier. Click to read the full article online.

I’ve written more than a few Post and Courier columns about the need to move monuments to the Confederate States of America from public spaces to places where they can be viewed in their proper historical context.

A few recent letters to the editor have defended those monuments, noting that similar monuments were erected to honor those who fought for the United States of America. They argue that Confederate monuments — built years after of the Civil War — were erected not to celebrate the end of Reconstruction and the imposition of Jim Crow segregation but because it took years for the South to recover from economic devastation and to raise the funds for their erection.

Those who actually erected or played a role in the erection of those Confederate monuments say otherwise.

When Confederate veteran and Ku Klux Klan supporter Julian Carr spoke at the dedication of the “Silent Sam” monument on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1913, he said, “One hundred yards from where we stand, less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a Negro wench until her clothing hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a southern lady, and rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers. I performed this pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison.”


The above is an excerpt of an article that was originally published on the Post and Courier. Click to read the full article online.

The Rev. Joseph A. Darby is senior pastor at Nichols Chapel AME Church and first vice president of the Charleston Branch NAACP.

Texans: Call Your Reps to Stop These Bills!

Dear Texans,

Right now, there are three bills moving through the Texas General Assembly that are designed to override community consensus, disenfranchise local citizens and rewrite history:

    • SB226 is a “Heritage Law,” like the Virginia legislation that continues to protect Charlottesville’s Confederate statues even after a rash of racist violence. Sen. Pat Fallon’s (R-30) bill would prohibit colleges from removing monuments or renaming facilities, public school districts from changing their name, and every county and municipality from removing any monument older than a few decades. The bill comes after the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, and the recent renaming of several schools named for Confederates, in Dallas.
    • HB583: Section 3C of Rep. James White’s (R-19) bill would prevent the removal or alteration of all Confederate monuments and memorials—including street and building names, portraits, statues, etc. Anyone charged with removing a monument would face a fine of up to $1,000 and “confinement in jail for a term of not less than three days and not more than one year.”
    • SJR2 would amend the Texas state constitution so that the legislature would have to approve all interpretive content at the Alamo and any state-owned history museum. While this isn’t technically a matter of removing Confederate monuments, it’s disturbing and outrageous that Sen. Bob Hall (R-2) is attempting to hand museum curatorial duties to a bunch of politicians, an idea radically incompatible with accuracy about our racial history.

If these proposed laws pass, efforts to remove monuments to the Confederacy and white supremacy will be halted—which, of course, is the entire point. They are intended to take away the power of local voters and jurisdictions to decide for themselves whether they want to pay homage to those who fought to defend black slavery, oppression and servitude. For all those reasons, a similar law in Alabama was recently ruled unconstitutional by a judge.

Please call your legislators and ask them to oppose SB226, HB583 (at least as long as it has section 3C in it) and SJR2.

For more information on these bills, visit the Texas Legislature website, which allows visitors to review all pending state legislation and its exact status in the legislative process. To find your local legislator and relevant contact information, visit fyi.capitol.texas.gov.

AND WHILE WE HAVE YOU HERE…On January 25, the State Preservation Board held a hearing that allowed 90 days of public comment on where the Confederate plaque removed from the Capitol rotunda should go. Please reach out to the board and tell them 1) not to reinstall the plaque, 2) not to install the plaque somewhere else where someone might think that it’s historically accurate and 3) to use this occasion to hold educational events about slavery, secession, and the “Lost Cause” myth. Email [email protected] OR send snail mail to P.O. Box 13286, Austin, Texas 78711.

Don’t forget to join De-Confederate Austin on Facebook and follow the group on Twitter at @DeConfederate.

Attend the Take ’Em Down Everywhere Conference!

As part of the international movement to remove symbols of, and tangible tributes to, white supremacy, you are officially invited to the Second Annual International Take ’Em Down Organizer’s conference the weekend of March 22-24 in Jacksonville, Florida. Over the last six months, the Make It Right Project has had the honor of working with folks across the country and world who are dedicated to dismantling white supremacy and reckoning with its ongoing legacy in every form, including its most visible manifestation—monuments glorifying systems of racist oppression and their defenders. We hope that all of you can join us in Jacksonville at this critical convening.

This year’s Take ’Em Down Everywhere conference “will be the second of its kind designed to commemorate, celebrate and strategically align Take ’Em Down efforts.” Last year’s conference took place in New Orleans and was an outgrowth of the tremendous work done by Take ’Em Down NOLA, who were key in spearheading this incarnation of the movement. “The conference will be targeted toward organizers from around the country and world who have been engaged in Take ’Em Down movements in their respective communities.” Please also note that Saturday will be open to the public, with a 3:00 p.m. protest action in Confederate Park to promote Take ’Em Down’s effort to remove all symbols to white supremacy.

Register for the conference here. (Please RSVP as soon as possible, whether you’d like to present or just attend. Please note there is a registration fee of $35.)

And if you are part of a network of folks who are dedicated to fighting white supremacy and removing symbols of white power, PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD. The conference will ideally include attendees from “every city or community with a monument or symbol movement afoot (and even those just getting started or planning on it).”

If you have questions or need to discuss anything, please reach out to organizers at (904) 524-1669.

For more information, including Take ’Em Down Everywhere’s mission and goals, visit TakeEmDownEverywhere.org.

Take Action Tuesday: Speak Up for Safe Drinking Water, Laboratory Dogs and the Arctic Refuge

Drinking water
Dangerous waters: More than 70 million pounds of the pesticide atrazine — which has been linked to serious health effects like hormone disruption, shorter pregnancy and even cancer — are dumped on American farmland each year.



Olga Naidenko and Sydney Evans, Environmental Working Group: Seasonal spikes of atrazine, a weed killer that disrupts hormones and harms the developing fetus, contaminate the drinking water of millions of Americans at potentially hazardous levels as run-off from corn-growing areas finds its way into source waters and reservoirs. In 2016, California state scientists listed atrazine, simazine and related chemicals as substances known to cause reproductive toxicity. The European Union completely phased out atrazine in 2003 because of its potential to contaminate drinking water sources. Yet in the U.S., the EPA continues to allow the pollution of drinking water with atrazine and similar weed killers.
>>>Tell the EPA to ban atrazine and protect America’s drinking water.

Priyvrat Gadhvi, Change.org: The single biggest reason for poaching of tigers, rhinos, elephants, several reptiles and a host of other mammalian species is to feed the huge demand for their body parts for use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) — one of the greatest threats to wildlife globally. TCM uses a range of wildlife parts and claims to cure a host of ailments, using therapies which have no basis in science, but the World Health Organization is about to endorse TCM in its annual medical compendium.
>>>Tell the World Health Organization: Don’t endorse any TCM product that uses ingredients made from wildlife parts.

Alka Chandna, Ph.D., PETA: Experimenters at Colorado State University trap American crows, American robins, and house sparrows in the wild; infect them with West Nile virus; watch as they develop painful and debilitating symptoms from the viral infection; and kill them. These experiments don’t help birds or humans — but our tax dollars have bankrolled this cruelty for years.
>>>Urge CSU to end these cruel, deadly experiments.

Adam Kolton, Alaska Wilderness League: New members-elect of Congress from across the country have already committed to protecting the Arctic Refuge by signing Alaska Wilderness Action’s Pledge for the Refuge. They will join more than one hundred current members who have committed to protect the Arctic Refuge from oil drilling, so we’re on the right track.
>>>Urge the newly elected House to quickly begin restoring protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Care2: Chickens raised for meat in factory farms spend their miserable lives crammed into sheds where they can barely move before they’re hung upside down and stunned — although some birds remain fully conscious — and their throats are slit. Because of this cruelty, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Subway and nearly 90 other companies have promised to stop using chickens from factory farms — but not fast-food giant McDonald’s, which sold 490 million pounds of the birds in one year alone.
>>>Urge McDonald’s to switch to more humanely raised chickens.

Causes: Dow Chemicals is attempting to expand its use of a bee-killing pesticide, despite federal regulations that have repeatedly tried to reign in the dangerous chemical. Earlier this month, Dow Chemicals submitted an application to the EPA to receive a waiver that would allow them to massively expand their use of sulfoxaflor, an insecticide that is detrimental to bee populations.
>>Urge EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to deny Dow’s request.

White Coat Waste Project: An investigation by White Coat Waste Project revealed that more than 1,100 beagles, hounds and mixed-breed dogs — even puppies — are subjected to secretive, wasteful and cruel experiments inside government laboratories each year. Most agencies including the VA, DOD, FDA and CDC do not reveal details of how our taxpayer dollars are being used for experiments on dogs, but on one of the few projects for which spending data is available, NIH experimenters have used nearly $6 million of taxpayers’ money since 2011 to give dogs heart attacks.
>>>Urge Congress to end this cruel, wasteful government spending on flawed research.

Care2: After the announcement of the approval of a third bat cull since 2015, the scientific community is extremely alarmed. In 2018, the Mauritian government plans to kill 20 percent of the current population: 13,000 out of 65,000. 38,000 bats were officially killed in the past two years — and this does not count the undocumented killing carried out by the public. Now, the population is weaker and less resilient to natural calamities — the two previous cullings resulted in the species being uplisted to Endangered in 2018.
>>>Urge the government of Mauritius to stop the planned cull.

One Green Planet: While many of us will attend family gatherings this Thanksgiving, let’s not forget about the awesomeness that is Friendsgiving. For those who don’t know, Friendsgiving is a relatively new holiday celebration (the term first emerged in 2007) and has become a much-anticipated part of many of our lives.
>>>Check out 15 budget-friendly vegan dishes to bring to Friendsgiving.

Parting thought…

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.” ―Arthur Schopenhauer

Earth | Food | Life (EFL) explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and animal/nature rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. EFL emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

Click here to support the work of EFL and the Independent Media Institute.

Questions, comments, suggestions, submissions? Contact EFL editor Reynard Loki at [email protected]. Follow EFL on Twitter @EarthFoodLife.

Announcing the Launch of the Face to Face Project

Simon Greer and I are excited to share the news that we are partnering on a new editorial project called Face to Face—an ongoing series of essays and articles that explore the spiritual, religious and moral dimensions of social change and the progressive movement. Simon is joining the Independent Media Institute as a writing fellow this fall, bringing a wealth of experience to the table.

Simon is a longtime labor and community organizer and social change leader. He has headed several social justice nonprofits and, for the past four years, has been working closely and intensively with white, working-class Americans to bridge the gap between this constituency and progressive movements. You will find Simon’s work indexed here on IMI’s Face to Face page.

Simon and I recently spoke about the project and thought sharing our conversation would be a great way for readers to get introduced to the topics and approaches he will focus on.

Jan Frel: The concept that we’ve arrived at, which we both see the need for, combines a few missing dimensions that we see in the progressive movement: patience and the understanding that social change requires inclusion and that everybody must a part of it.

Simon Greer: It feels to me at least like the lines are being drawn, either on this side or that side, and I feel that inside of me, as well. There’s a curiosity and a humility required to get past those lines, without which I’m not sure how you actually make the kind of change that progressives talk about wanting to make. So it feels like it’s convenient, if you will. They’re the bad guys, we’re the good guys. They need to change, be more like us, and then we’ll win, right? Does the world really work that way?

We know from our most personal relationships that whenever we approach a disagreement with ‘you’re wrong, I’m right, and if you were more like me, we’d all be happier,’ we don’t get a lot of movement. We actually generate more resistance, and it feels as though progressive movements are losing sight of the curiosity and the humility that could actually serve us better.

Frel: And so the work that you are going to do with us is going to look at the key issues of our times and try to understand them through this framework?

Greer: Exactly. I’ve certainly felt over the last 10 years, and more intensively over the past two, that I’ve started to feel more like I’m a political orphan on some level.

Not that my values have changed, but my sense that, in the way we approach the issues of today, we’ve lost sight of the rest of our fellow Americans and the possibility of what we might do together. We need to bring that perspective back.

Frel: Do you feel that there is also a legacy issue the progressive movement is dealing with in a habit of ignoring the efforts that the religious and spiritual movements of our times have made for social change? And the flip side of the question, are we ruling out the people on the basis that they could go under the label “religious right”?

Greer: Certainly back to the Gore election defeat, there’s been talk among progressives about values voters and so I feel like there’s been an awareness of it. But I have spent the last few years immersed in conservative, white working-class America, and God, family and country are the things that matter to most people. Not just conservatives, but most people. Those are the things they care about, and progressives, in a way, have given up or lost that territory.

So we tend not to speak in faith language, or about strong families, or about being patriotic and loving our country, and if those are the things that most people care about, you start a deficit. Without speaking to these issues, you can’t communicate credibly and inspire people to develop the conviction to take some risks and do things differently as a country; to extend themselves to others with whom they might not have much experience.

I’m just going to add one thing to that: in fairness to progressives in America, this is a global phenomenon. So in England, Germany, Scandinavia, Israel, Australia—in developed market economies across the globe—the left, liberal, labor, social democratic, progressive parties have lost faith with a lot of people.

You would think that, out of global financial collapse, the rising tide would be the progressive one. You would think that’s who would capture the political imagination of working-class people.

But in all those countries, those progressive movements and parties have lost the connection to what you would have thought its base should or could be, especially in the face of the banks fleecing the country. So, wouldn’t the people be with the progressive alternative to that? They aren’t, to put it plainly.

And so it led me to think not just that we’re inadequate as progressives here, but that there’s something missing in the ethos of progressive politics across the planet.

Frel: I observe a prevailing habit of imagining or pretending that there is no spiritual dimension to life when it comes to social change.

Greer: Certainly you see it play out. The advice to progressives is: if you’re going to talk to conservatives or to moderates, people who are likely more religious or have a theology or a moral code, don’t talk about morality. Talk about bread-and-butter issues. That’s the safe territory.

But this approach misunderstands that, for people who live by a moral code, you don’t have bread-and-butter issues and moral issues. You have a moral code through which you understand all the issues. And so if I come to you as a religious person and say, “I want you to put those moral issues aside and let’s talk about bread and butter,” they think, “Well, either your bread-and-butter stuff must not matter because it doesn’t relate to my morality, or you don’t have a moral code. You think that’s an optional thing. For me, it’s the whole thing.”

In essence, we’ve said, “You shouldn’t trust me, because I think morality is flexible and now I want to tell you why you should ignore your moral code to vote on the issues I’m telling you about.” It doesn’t make any sense. You need to operate within the code by which people think they live. Otherwise, they’re not going to take a leap with you.

Visit IMI’s Face to Face project page.

Jan Frel
Executive Director
Independent Media Institute



Simon Greer
Writing Fellow
Face to Face Project




Make It Right Project Seattle Campaign Puts Up Billboard and Generates Major Media Attention

Seattle—The Make It Right Project’s public awareness billboard in Seattle has been garnering coverage from media outlets across the city (scroll to the bottom of this post to see). The sign was erected to ensure widespread awareness in the city of the existence of a local Confederate monument. Located in Lake View Cemetery in Seattle’s iconic Capitol Hill neighborhood, the Confederate marker has stood on the site for more than 90 years. The monument was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy—the organization behind most of the 1,700 Confederate markers in the U.S.—the same year that the group dedicated its monument to the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina. The billboard, which includes a picture of the monument, tells the city, “Hey Seattle, there’s a Confederate memorial in your backyard.” The sign is located at 103 15th Avenue East in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

“It notable that Seattle’s tribute to the Confederacy was carved from a 10-ton piece of Stone Mountain—the site where the Ku Klux Klan held its rebirth ceremony in 1915—that was shipped across the country from Georgia to Washington,” said MIR Director Kali Holloway. “The UDC sought to ensure that white racist terror was, both figuratively and literally, an elemental part of this monument. While the marker is surrounded by Confederate graves, there are no bodies directly beneath it, meaning it serves only to glorify the army that fought to maintain black chattel slavery. It is not a headstone, but instead a sculptural assertion of white supremacy and power.”

“The Loren Miller Bar Association joins the Make It Right Project in calling for the removal of Seattle’s Confederate monument,” said Loren Miller Bar Association president Erika Evans. LMBA is the Washington affiliate chapter of the National Bar Association, the oldest minority bar association in the U.S. and largest organization of African-American lawyers in the country. “We strongly believe our namesake, Loren Miller, who dedicated his four-decade career in law to fighting racial injustice and discrimination—and whose father was born into slavery—would undoubtedly support this effort to remove a symbol of the virulent racism he fearlessly confronted. Particularly in this moment, much like the moment it was erected, when hard-fought African American civil rights are under attack.”

“The Lake View Cemetery Confederate monument was put up during an era of intense racial violence in the South—a period that had also seen the Klan expand across Washington and Oregon, when lynchings became a common way of terrorizing black communities around the country,” said Michelle Merriweather, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. “It continues to send the message it was erected to convey. The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle—which has been fighting on behalf of Seattle’s most vulnerable communities for as long as this monument has stood—is loudly calling for its removal.”

The Make It Right Project is dedicated to working with multiple groups—activists, artists, historians and media outlets—to remove Confederate monuments and develop post-removal protocols to tell the truth about history.

Media Coverage:

MyNorthwest: Group Puts Up Billboard Calling for Removal of Seattle Confederate Monument

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Campaign to Take Down Seattle’s Confederate Memorial Gets a Billboard

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Charlette Report: Hey Seattle, There’s a Confederate Memorial in Your Backyard

The Ron & Don Show: A Billboard Calls for the Removal of a Confederate Monument in Seattle

The Skanner: Billboard in Seattle Spotlights Local Confederate Memorial

Capitol Hill Seattle Blog: Campaign Against Confederate Monuments Targets Memorial in Capitol Hill Cemetery

The Heyward Shepherd Monument: An Overt Ode to Slavery

The Heyward Shepherd memorial is an overtly pro-slavery monument erected in 1931 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In recognition of John Brown Day, please check out an article of mine published in the Spirit of Jefferson, adapted below, about the many reasons the marker should come down.

Beneath that are photos from the protest of the Confederate plaque on the Charles Town, West Virginia, courthouse on Friday, October 12. Among the protesters was the group of women whose joint letter launched the campaign for removal last year. Members of the West Virginia Women’s March were also involved in the demonstration, titled “Let’s Make It Right: Remove the Plaque.”

The following is adapted from “Heyward Shepherd ‘Tribute’ Is a Racist Relic That Must Come Down”:

The inscription on what’s now known as the Heyward Shepherd memorial in Harpers Ferry makes clear that while it is a monument to many things—racism, slavery and oppression above all—Heyward Shepherd the human being is not among them.

Shepherd (whose actual first name was Haywood) had been a free black man, a baggage handler on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and a husband and father of five. As the first person killed in abolitionist John Brown’s failed 1859 attempt to incite an armed revolt among enslaved people, Shepherd’s accidental death was an historic casualty. The latter fact made Shepherd into a person of interest to the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). After learning that students at Storer College, an historically black institution in Harpers Ferry, had put up a plaque honoring Brown and his rebellion, the UDC endeavored to create an oppositional monument. Under the guise of honoring Shepherd, the Daughters savvily envisaged a way to exploit black death for their own propagandistic ends.

It ultimately took 10 years for the UDC to find a location that would permit installation of what they tellingly referred to as the “Faithful Slave Memorial.” Community opposition, which had been led by students and faculty at Storer College, was eventually overruled. In 1931—five years after erecting a monument to the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina, and five decades before installing an honorific to Confederates on the Jefferson county courthouse that replaced the building Confederates once destroyed—the UDC put up their monument along Harpers Ferry’s Potomac Street. Though it briefly acknowledged Shepherd as a “colored freeman,” it also contorted historical fact to disingenuously characterize Shepherd as having “exemplif[ied] the character and faithfulness of thousands of Negroes who, under many temptations throughout subsequent years of war, so conducted themselves that no stain was left upon a record which is the peculiar heritage of the American people, and an everlasting tribute to the best in both races.”

Like all Confederate markers, the Harpers Ferry monument perpetuates the ahistorical Lost Cause mythology that asserts the Confederacy’s treasonous fight to maintain black chattel slavery was valorous and that slavery itself was an ultimate good. But what’s particularly remarkable about the monument—an otherwise unremarkable 6’ tall slab of granite—is how it lays fully bare the intentions of those who put it there. The UDC’s outright support for racism is literally inscribed on its face. It is an explicit ode to slavery, a wistful longing for a time when black people knew their place, set into stone. The “best” blacks, it argues, did not fight for their freedom—not because they were outgunned and terrorized, victimized by a brutally violent and inhumane system—but because slavery actually wasn’t so bad. Consider that the UDC is credited with having erected the vast majority of the estimated 700 Confederate statues and monuments that dot this country. The story of the Harpers Ferry monument offers clarity on the ideas and beliefs that guided that work.

For good and obvious reasons—decency and morality among them—criticism of the monument continued after its placement. One scathing critique in the African-American press noted the marker proved whites in the South “still hanker[ed] for the filthy institution of slavery.” Those criticisms largely faded when the tablet was placed in storage in the 1970s due to construction, at least until the UDC demanded its return in the early 1980s, launching another round of justifiable outrage by groups including the NAACP. In response, the National Parks Service covered the monument with wooden planks, reportedly until the Sons of Confederate Veterans and UDC made direct appeals to Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond. The two Southern senators, whose legacies on race are both well-known and abysmal, saw to it that in 1995 the tablet was returned to the Harpers Ferry site where it still stands.

Even amidst a glutted field of racist markers, the Harpers Ferry monument stands out. The recent national conversation about the removal of Confederate iconography has pretty much omitted the Heyward Shepherd marker, but it should be a feature—as should the Charles Town Confederate plaque. In 1986, more than 120 years after the war’s end, the local UDC placed a marker to an enemy army that fought for slavery on the county courthouse, as if posting a literal sign about who could expect to receive justice inside. Defenders of Confederate markers frequently express fears that removing monuments that honor the Confederacy will magically “erase history.” They also argue that Confederate memorials weren’t intended to glorify slavery, and that calls to take these monuments down are the result of a new and misguided strain of “political correctness.” The Heyward Shepherd monument disproves both claims, despite what has been endlessly repeated by neo-Confederates from the streets of Charlottesville to the White House. Calls for removal around the country aren’t the result of some new PC movement. They’re the outcome when voices that have been ignored forever demand to be heard.

These monuments were put up to erase history and replace it with lies. To take them down, then, would be a corrective.

Descendant of Racist Confederate Leader Voices Support for Anti-Racist Activists

CHAPEL HILL, NC—Meg Yarnell, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Julian Carr, is calling for academic and criminal charges to be dropped against Maya Little and other anti-racist activists who have been arrested for protests related to the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam. In an open letter to University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill administrators, including Chancellor Carol Folt, Yarnell notes that she is “grateful for what Maya did to contextualize this statue and advance the cause for its removal.”

In the weeks and months following the toppling of Silent Sam on August 20, Carr’s speech at the statue’s 1913 dedication ceremony has been widely recirculated. It offers unvarnished proof of the motivations behind the statue’s placement on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and Silent Sam’s connection to historic and ongoing campaigns of anti-black racism and terror. Carr bragged in his oration that he had once “horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds” near the site of the statue, and tacitly thanked the Ku Klux Klan for committing racist violence against blacks during Reconstruction in the name of the “the Anglo Saxon race in the South.”

On Monday morning, Little’s case again heads to court. The UNC graduate student and anti-racist activist faces up to 60 days in jail for protesting Silent Sam by dousing the statue in a mixture of red paint and her own blood. Additionally, more than two dozen anti-racist activists have been arrested while protesting against neo-Confederates on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus since Silent Sam came down.

The text of Yarnell’s letter, in its entirety, is below:

An Open Letter to the UNC Administration

I write to you, as the great, great, great granddaughter of Julian S. Carr, to advocate that UNC drop the Honor Court and criminal charges against Maya Little and the antiracist activists arrested protesting the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam. Considering the legacy of my great, great, great grandfather, who was instrumental in erecting Silent Sam and infamously dedicated the statue by celebrating the purity of the Anglo-Saxon race and the time that he “whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds,” I am grateful for what Maya did to contextualize this statue and advance the cause for its removal.

My family can trace our lineage in the United States back to early America and the shameful time when our ancestors owned slaves, a time when it was perfectly acceptable, even enviable, for one man and his kin to become rich off the unpaid labor, industry, and suffering of hundreds of men, women and children.

My great, great, great grandfather Julian Carr fought in the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy, which explicitly dedicated itself to keeping this system of slavery alive. Yes, he loved his family and parts of the community in which he lived, but we must recognize that Julian was a white supremacist whose vitriolic speech and actions resulted in the pain and suffering of many.

As a white person, and descendant of Julian Carr, I cannot remain silent. Our silence as white people is complicity with white supremacy and has created a very painful world. It is a horrifying necessity to confront the reality that my ancestors participated in such shameful things, and I want to express my sorrow and deepest apologies for the profound suffering, trauma and inequality caused by the actions of my ancestors, including Julian Carr. However, apologies are not enough. Action is needed to help right these historic wrongs.

As Frederick Douglass said during an 1881 speech, “Slavery is indeed gone, but its long, black shadow yet falls broad and large over the face of the whole country.” This continues to be true today.

The founding of our country is circumscribed by multiple traumas of oppression and violence—slavery of Black people and genocide of First Nations peoples among them. As a nation we have failed to truly understand, acknowledge, mourn, and make reparations for our country’s violent origins.

This untreated wound is why it is so difficult to talk about race and culture in America. It is one of the reasons we do not make meaningful headway on so many of society’s problems such as poverty, institutional racism, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and health inequality. It is why we continue to hold onto racist and damaging memorials such as the one torn down at UNC.

By our “founding fathers’” design, white people have benefitted and continue to benefit from slavery and its contemporary semblances. As white people, we need to confront our past and take responsibility for creating real socioeconomic and racial equity and justice today. For one, we need to use the privilege history has afforded us to speak the truth and remove Confederate monuments like Silent Sam, which only serve to celebrate our nation’s ugly past and present. We should applaud the actions of Maya Little and other antiracist activists, many of whom are people of color, for putting themselves at risk to improve our communities.

Maya’s action in April 2018 was a courageous act of civil disobedience and an attempt to ameliorate the harm that white people have done. She generated thoughtful discussion around issues of white supremacy at her own expense. Those that participated in the actions against the statue in August and early September also sought to turn the tides on campus to discussions of racial inclusion and social justice. I stand proudly with them.

UNC is in a unique position at this moment in time. Silent Sam has been removed. In its absence, the university can reimagine the commemorative landscape to represent the community’s highest values. UNC can create a campus that is welcoming for all and in the spirit of its mission to serve as a center for research, scholarship, and creativity for a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to become the next generation of leaders.

Maya Little, as well as those involved in removing and protesting the statue, are some of these leaders. It would be another wound to silence or make invisible (or worse, violently eradicate) their actions, which have put UNC’s community and our nation in a greater place to collectively heal.


Meg Yarnell

Activists and Make It Right Project Fight UDC Neo-Confederate Agenda

Last week, the North Carolina chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy—the organization that has done more than any other to put up Confederate monuments and ensure they remain standing—held their annual multi-day gathering in Durham. They were met by a group of anti-racist activists. Organized by Heather Redding and other members of Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action, the demonstration also included activists from local chapters of other anti-racist organizations. Protesters sported t-shirts provided by the Make It Right Project emblazoned with messages opposing the UDC’s neo-Confederate agenda.

Check out photos of the action below. More on the UDC’s history and current actions—which include erecting a monument to the Ku Klux Klan, ensuring Southern children’s textbooks properly schooled them in the tenets of white supremacy, and successfully spreading the Lost Cause mythology, which twists history to turn the Confederate fight for slavery into a noble cause—is available here.



(l-r) Susan Christine Reynolds and Heather Redding of Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action.