It took more than a century for “Silent Sam,” a Confederate monument to white supremacy at UNC-Chapel Hill, to be removed from its pedestal. Students, faculty and other local activists have been calling for the monument’s removal since the 1960s, and spent the last few years navigating a byzantine legal labyrinth to bring the statue down. Unmoved by appeals to either decency or morality, the university and other North Carolina officials did nothing, and the monument to those who fought for black chattel slavery stood for 105 years. On August 20, community anger and outrage boiled over and protesters pulled the monument down.
In recent months, the Make It Right Project bought billboards, designed posters, and published articles to help support activist efforts and educate the public about the violent racist history of the monument. Sam may finally truly be silent, but there are questions that still remain. Will there be efforts by UNC or state officials to further incense the issue and potentially put public safety at risk by resurrecting a tangible ode to white supremacy? Should the pedestal remain and, if so, what genuinely deserving figure should be honored with a new statue? Where should the statue go and how should it now be handled?
We plan to continue supporting the work of activists and contributing to Chapel Hill’s anti-racist movement and restorative justice process to answer these questions with an eye toward social justice and equity.
Silent Sam is one of the 10 original statues targeted by the Make It Right Project. Click here to learn more about the other unwanted Confederate memorials.