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UNC Chapel Hill has announced that it will be bringing back the confederate statue that protesters pulled down earlier this year. Students and faculty had been asking for the removal of Silent Sam, a statue of a confederate soldier, for years before protests took it upon themselves to do after the Charlottesville, Virginia protests.
On Monday, the chancellor of UNC Chapel Hill revealed the plan to bring Silent Sam back to campus. It will be housed in a new building that will cost the school more than $5 million to building and another $800,000 a year to maintain. They hope that by putting the statue in a building, it’ll stop protesters from destroying or taking the statue down. They also say the new spot is less prominent than the original location, therefore it’ll lessen the offense some feel for honoring Confederacy. The university adds that they plan to “contextualize” its history, which includes slavery, Jim Crow and the civil rights movement.
“Our community and nation have struggled for a long time with deeply rooted issues of race, inclusion, opportunity, pride and memory associated with America’s history. These driving societal and historical forces will be essential to creating a truthful and full historical contextualization both of our university and the Confederate monument,” said an email to the campus from Carol L. Folt, the chancellor, and Robert A. Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost.
After the announcement on Monday, protest immediately began as hundreds marched on the campus. Many say the money could be going towards so much more than bringing back such an offensive statue. “It seems UNC is more willing to spend money on a racist relic of the past than students who attend this school,” an editorial in The Daily Tar Heel said. “Once again, the administration has made it clear that minority students are merely props, to be used and exploited when it is convenient for them.” A statement issued by one group organizing a rally said that “the UNC community has consistently and forcefully made clear that to reinstall the Confederate monument to any location on UNC’s campus is to herald for the nation and for the world that UNC is not a welcoming place for black people.” The new building for the statue will be “a safe space for white supremacy and forcing us to pay for it,” the statement added.
Written by Clarke Jones