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As NC reckons with Confederate monuments, marker in Georgia supplies historical context

This week a judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the removal of the Confederate monument at the historic courthouse in Chatham County

The Chatham County Commissioners voted to removed the statue, located at the historic courthouse in Pittsboro, back in August after giving the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) until Oct. 1 to relocate the statue. This week’s ruling puts off the removal of the statue, where neo-Confederate and anti-racist protesters have faced off for months.

The controversy over the Pittsboro statue is one of many across the state involving Confederate monuments, from the toppling of the “Silent Sam” statue at UNC-Chapel Hill to the N.C. Historical Commission declining to suggest removal of the Confederate monuments in downtown Raleigh last year.

Many discussions of Confederate statues involve the idea of adding markers that contextualize the statues, preventing the false impression of history many historians say was the original goal when they were erected.

This summer DeKalb County, Georgia put up such a marker at the site of the Confederate monument at its historic courthouse  — and it’s getting raves from history experts who say the statues have gone without that context too long.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported:

And now, that historical marker is receiving praise from afar for its truth-telling about the “lost cause” movement and the factual history of the Civil War.

“Now this is how to do it,” Washington & Lee University history professor Michelle Brock wrote on Twitter. “Honest, effective public history does not pull punches. When monuments to the Lost Cause & white supremacy cannot be removed, they need to be called what they are.”

As UNC students and community members continue their struggle to remove the names of enslavers and avowed white supremacists from buildings on their campus, UNC officials continue to say they would prefer to contextualize the university’s history properly.

But many students in the movement say they doubt UNC officials will be as frank in contextualizing the school’s history as DeKalb County.

8 Comments


  1. William Lyle Carter Jr

    October 31, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    I find it ironic that the daughters of Confederacy are so offended by the removal of these monuments and statues that depict an ugly time when our country when black people were forced to honor and respect these monuments that were erected in an attempt to intimidate them into silent submission to the white supremacy of the Jim Crow era. It is sad that we consider ourselves to be fair and intelligent people have been subjected to the false impression that if we are kind and polite and if we are nice to these racist hypocritical bigoted ignorant arrogant people that they will like us. The foolishness of Center position by Otherwise intelligent people shows that white supremacy still Reigns Supreme in the South. Everyone is so afraid to stand up to the big white bully as though they have the ability to destroy them when all they are mere human beings. It is time for the human race just take a stand and to tell these white supremacist bullies that their intimidation tactics do not work on intelligent people it is today who are in the wrong. Their forefathers were traitors to our country, and murderers of a whole race of people only because they could. The true disgrace is that even in 2019 we are still honoring the people who desecrated America and the principle that we were founded upon for their own personal gain.

  2. Dean Marshall

    November 1, 2019 at 11:13 am

    I am of the belief that vandalizing and desecrating Confederate monuments as a panacea for absolving our country of its original sin of slavery is a woefully expensive exercise in futility that will end up being more divisive than healing. The notion that if we just revise and sanitize our history until it passes a litmus test of political correctness racism will miraculously disappear is ridiculous. I wonder how many Afro Americans are truly offended and losing a night’s sleep over these monuments or are the activists attacking them doing so because they’re incapable or afraid of addressing the “real” problems plaguing our country like wanton gun violence, economic inequality, corporate malfeasance, drug and alcohol addiction, infrastructure disintegration, political paralysis, rampant homelessness and climate change? Good, bad or indifferent “sullying” the memory of a bunch of long dead Johnny reads will do absolutely nothing to end racism in this country until We The People decide to remove from our own individual hearts.

  3. Jody Hoffman

    November 1, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    To William Carter, our nation was founded with slavery in place. Why not study the history of America before you make a comment like that. Our Founding Fathers and 1/3 of the population committed treason against the King of England & if caught they would of been hung. We were an English colony & our war of Independence did nothing to free the slaves. The statement that “all men are created equal” was the biggest lie ever told. It should of been “all white Englishmen are created equal & superior to the Africans & Native Americans & Spanish” Jefferson and Washington were 2 of the biggest slave owners in America at the time, why not go after the monuments to them? How about Lincoln the great “emancipator” when he was running for president he promised that he was not going to end slavery, he was not going to interfere with the southern states. When he did start to consider ending slavery he wanted to send all former slaves to a colony in Brazil because they were unable to take care of themselves. Demand that his monument be taken down. It’s easy to go after the Confederate monuments because nobody wants to know the truth about the history of America and the Civil War.

  4. pete p.

    November 2, 2019 at 12:26 am

    Regardless of our high mindedness regarding remembrance and interpretation of history, from whatever perspective we hold, we are all subject to the dictates of time. Racism is disappearing….slowly but surely. Neither outrage or impatience will eradicate it…..only the persistence of time along with the dogged realization of what is right and good will eventually permeate our constantly evolving society.

    And pray that future generations judge us with more justice and compassion that we judge our predecessors.

  5. Lance Mock

    November 2, 2019 at 4:00 am

    Amen Dean Marshall ! Could not have said it any better.

  6. Mark Harris

    November 2, 2019 at 5:40 am

    Well said Dean. Erasing history and creating a new one is in my opinion a signal of a slide into rampant ignorance. I love the study of history as it has allowed me a better understanding of present and a vision of the future.

  7. Lee

    November 2, 2019 at 10:04 am

    I always stop to read monuments as a learning experience. Let me be individually offended but I should not be instrumental in denying others the same option. If I were a weak individual I would avoid things that might offend me.

  8. Jane

    November 2, 2019 at 10:30 am

    So is the University prepared to return the money given to them by white supremacists and racists? And exactly how do they determine that??

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