The N.C. Historical Commission’s committee on confederate monuments held its first meeting Monday afternoon by teleconference, setting goals and discussing how to tackle the controversial issue.
Back in September, the full commission put off a decision on removing three Confederate monuments from the State Capitol grounds. Instead, it formed a five-person committee to study the politically fraught issue, which the North Carolina General Assembly dropped into their laps with a 2015 law that makes it more difficult to remove such statues.
The committee consists of:
- Chris Fonvielle, an associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
- Valerie Johnson, the Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of Africana Women’s Studies at Greensboro’s Bennett College and chair of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission.
- Noah Reynolds, a real estate investor and entrepreneur and trustee of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
- Sam Dixon, an attorney and preservation advocate from Edenton.
- David Ruffin, a banker and chairman of the commission.
During Monday’s initial meeting, the committee laid out its goals. Among them:
1) Seeking legal input from the law schools at Duke University, Elon University, N.C. Central, UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University, Campbell University and from the UNC School of government.
2) Seeking outside input from historical experts, including David Cecelski, a North Carolina historian whose award-winning work on race in North Carolina has often touched on the Civil War and reconstruction era. The committee is also seeking input from historians at the state’s historically black colleges and universities and the Civil War and Reconstruction history museum now being planned in Fayetteville.
3) Creating a web portal for public comment, which they will also accept via traditional mail and holding at least one public forum before they present their work to the full commission.
“I think the state of NC deserves the rationale behind any decision and so it’s not just a public hearing but also explaining,” Ruffin said. “I absolutely feel a public hearing is quite critical to our mission.”
The committee has not yet set its next meeting date, but hopes to do so soon.