UNC’s Shame: Why Silent Sam Must Come Down

21149984_10209890502844764_7980554321820611943_nUNC Chapel Hill tore down the Silent Sam Sit-In yesterday, confiscating all supplies donated to the peaceful student protesters. This is my letter to Chancellor Carol Folt. I hope y’all will write to her, too: chancellor@unc.edu, (919) 962-1365, @chancellorFolt on twitter.
Chancellor Folt: When the era of your UNC leadership is retold many years from now, the story won’t focus on your accomplishments – but on how you were among the last of the university’s leaders to condone white supremacy on campus.
Despite a green light from the Governor to remove the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument to white supremacists who treasonously rebelled against their own government to keep African-Americans enslaved for greater economic power for whites, you chose to toe the white-supremacist line and uphold the status quo.
It’s not hard to guess why. I’m quite sure that many white males, and some white females, who give generously to the University pressured you to tear down the signs educating passers-by about our white supremacist culture and chase away the peaceful protesters (whose cause I have no doubt will ultimately prevail).
Instead of having the courage to stand on the right side of history and promote racial healing on campus, you played it “safe.” Who wants to deal with the harsh criticism of being ahead of the times, right?
I do wonder if you even took time to observe the sit-in or absorb the many ways in which they were educating the public about white supremacy and its impacts on the community that you lead. I guarantee you that more pertinent education happened in the last few weeks around that statue than in any other classroom on campus.
Are you even aware that Silent Sam’s dedication ceremony included a speech by Julian Carr boasting about how he “horse-whipped a n**** wench until her skirts hung in shreds” on Franklin St.?
It’s SO easy for white people to deny what the Confederacy stood for, to not rock the boat. But I am TIRED of living in a racist, white supremacist culture – and I’m WHITE.
Imagine how your students of color feel.
I know you aren’t from North Carolina. Did you know that your campus was built by slaves (to whom the Silent Sam statue is an affront)?
Or that shortly after the Civil War the KKK murdered dozens of people and tortured others and then impeached the NC governor when he tried to stop them?
Did you know there are at least eight active KKK chapters in the state, including one in Chapel Hill (as well as neo-Nazi and Neo-Confederate hate groups)?
Why are you supporting their cause?
I’m including some links and pictures of the sit-in for educational purposes.
I look forward to the day that you change your mind and remove that monument to white supremacy from its pedestal. The symbolism is important.
If not, I’m sure a future UNC leader – one with the tenacity to stand up for what is morally right – will take that place in history.
Stacie Borrello
NC resident, voter, activist and supporter of the UNC Silent Sam Sit-In
Links:
KKK murders lead to impeachment of NC Governor opposed to their violence: https://cwnc.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/962
Silent Sam history, including the “horse-whipping a n**** wench” speech: http://www.heraldsun.com/news/local/counties/orange-county/article168765227.html
Confederate statues erected in Jim Crow era to whitewash history and symbolize the continued oppression of black people:
Lastly, why are we celebrating the Confederate oppressors instead of the black freedom fighters?
#silencesam #smashwhitesupremacy #confederatestatues UNC Students of the Silent Sam Sit-in #BlackLivesMatter
Some of the educational materials on white supremacy and personal stories that were featured at the Silent Sam Sit-In before Chancellor Carol Folt tore it all down to make way for something she deems more important: continued white supremacy and oppression of people of color on campus.
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