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UNC School of Education opposes “hatred, bigotry and white supremacy” of Silent Sam

A large crowd rallies at the Silent Sam Confederate monument on UNC’s campus as student Michelle Brown speaks. (Photo by Joe Killian)

On Tuesday the UNC School of Education became the latest group to officially call for the removal of Silent Sam, the controversial Confederate monument on the Chapel Hill campus.

The school’s statement:

The Faculty, Staff, and the Board of the Graduate Student Association in the School of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill stand with faculty, staff, and students from across campus in calling for the removal of the confederate monument now known as “Silent Sam.” In speeches dedicating the monument, Silent Sam was erected as a symbol of hatred, bigotry, and white supremacy. It was part of a movement that worked to suppress the political and economic power of black Americans, to establish structures to extend white dominance, and to suppress the aspirations of people of color. Its presence on our campus is contrary to our School’s commitment to the transformative power of education. It is contrary to our belief, as embodied in our mission, that “education has the power to break down barriers, lift up individuals, and empower communities to rise and thrive.” It is contrary to the ideas and practices that we and many of our alumni have worked to implement to dismantle the vestiges of a history that included laws forbidding slaves to learn to read or write and making it a crime for others to teach them. If we are to be true to the people of the state and part of a world-class educational system dedicated to serving North Carolina and its people, we must ensure that our campus is welcoming to all learners. As educators, we have an obligation to continue the work of dismantling systemic racism in our schools, on our college campuses, and in our democratic society.

Adopted by votes of the Faculty and Staff of the School of Education and the Board of the School’s Graduate Student Association.

The statement is just the latest in a large and growing number from departments and groups representing students, staff and faculty.

The UNC Board of Trustees heard from a cross section of students, staff, faculty and alumni on the Silent Sam issue at their meeting earlier this month.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC President Margaret Spellings have thus far held to their position that their hands are tied by a 2015 state law preventing the removal of “objects of remembrance” under most circumstances.

Both have chosen their public words on the subject carefully and have been chided by lawmakers and the UNC Board of Governors – both dominated by Republicans – for discussing the matter with Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat.

Cooper and a number of legal experts – including some in the UNC School of Law – disagree that the law completely prevents the school from taking action to remove the statue.

 

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