The Northern Piedmont local of the Socialist Party USA condemns the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Board of Governors decision to give $2.5 million dollars to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In addition to this large financial gift, the UNC Board of Governors has also shown their dedication to maintaining and protecting symbols of white supremacy by giving the Silent Sam statue to Neo Confederates, ensuring it will again be in a place of honor and prominence, rather than consigned to the proper fate of all fascist and neo-fascist symbols and ideology.
‘Silent Sam’ was a statue commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and donated to UNC in 1913. UDC planned to erect Confederate monuments in as many colleges in the Jim Crow south as possible. This was one way to reinforce their idea of southern heritage as publicly as possible. Much like their cries of ‘heritage not hate’, their ideology is nothing more than thinly veiled white supremacy, patriarchy, and blind, militaristic nationalism. Julian Carr, pro-slavery advocate, white-supremacist, and Klu Klux Klan supporter, gave the dedicatory speech for this Confederate monument in 1913. In his speech, Carr brags of preforming the ‘pleasing duty’ of horsewhipping a black woman ‘until her skirt hung in shreds’ on the UNC campus, and said the following of the Confederate soldiers represented by Silent Sam:
“...for the facts are, that their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South… and to-day, as a consequence the purest strain of the Anglo-Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States.”
(The entire transcript of the speech can be read here: http://hgreen.people.ua.edu/transcription-carr-speech.html)
Echoes of Julian Carr’s bigotry still reverberate in Chapel Hill and beyond. You can hear them in the actions of the NC State Legislature, when they passed a law preventing UNC from removing the statue, against the better judgement of members of the student body, faculty, and those in the greater Chapel Hill community willing to stand up to racism in their back yard. We heard these echoes again this week, coming from the UNC Board of Governors appointed by that legislature. The UNC Board of Governors has consistently stretched the truth and misled the public about the nature of this gift by implying it was a settlement from a lawsuit, and by announcing it after the semester ended to dampen student protest.
We encourage anyone thinking of giving financial support to the University of North Carolina to reconsider and examine other options before giving: support black scholarships and/or the work of anti-hate groups in their area instead. The Northern Piedmont Local of the SP-USA stands in opposition to the cowards and bigots who have allowed white supremacy to continue at UNC and beyond. We cheer the true rebels who removed monuments in Chapel Hill, Durham, and other locations across the state, and will continue to destroy monuments to white supremacy whenever it takes root. We support and stand in solidarity with the anti-racist activists, faculty members, staff, students, and community members that worked to ensure black students would no longer be greeted by this symbol of oppression on campus. We cheer the bravery and dedication of these fellow workers and will work tirelessly with and alongside them until white supremacy no longer exists, we acknowledge their selfless actions and the sacrifices they have made. Workers of the World Unite against fascism and white supremacy!