Earlier this week Maya Little, a graduate student in UNC’s History department, took the movement to remove the “Silent Sam” Confederate statue on the Chapel Hill campus to a new level – defacing the statue with red paint to which she added her own blood.
Little, who released a statement calling her demonstration a necessary act of civil disobedience, was arrested.
She now faces charges of defacing, striking, marking or injuring a public statue, according to the Orange County Magistrate’s Office. Her first court appearance is Monday.
A number of students and faculty in UNC’s History department are standing behind Little and decrying the inaction of the school’s administration in the face of pressure to remove – or even vocally oppose – the statue.
Sarah Shields, a professor in the History Department and its director of Graduate Studies, sent the following letter to Chancellor Carol Folt, the provost and the direcotr of campus security:
As members of the History Department and the broader UNC campus community, we write to reaffirm our belief that the 1913 monument known as Silent Sam is a festering wound on the campus. Abundant historical research documenting its racist origins makes clear there is no place for such a monument on a campus that claims to welcome all of its diverse members. We support our student and colleague Maya Little and other members of the campus community who employ their right to use non-violent civil disobedience to protest this affront to the Carolina Way.
Malinda Maynor Lowery
Benjamin C. Waterhouse
Wayne E. Lee
Jay M. Smith
Genna Rae McNeil
Lauren V. Jarvis
Jerma A. Jackson
Miguel La Serna
Donald J. Raleigh
Graduate students in the department have released their own statement. It was signed by more than 60 students.
“When the administration refuses to protect its community, it is the duty of students, faculty, staff, campus and graduate workers to do so by challenging institutional racism and oppression,” the statement said. “Maya Little took that responsibility on her shoulders by properly contextualizing a statue that was already drenched in black blood. Built in 1913 by white supremacists who enslaved and murdered black Americans, the statue continues to serve as a rallying point for violent white supremacist groups today. We support Maya’s actions unequivocally. Now it is our turn to stand for diversity and equity on campus. “