UNC-Chapel Hill students believe they’ve found current location of “Silent Sam”

Last month, UNC-Chapel Hill students and community members celebrated the one year anniversary of the toppling of “Silent Sam” — the controversial Confederate monument that stood on campus for more than a century.

This weekend the school’s daily newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, reported that student journalists may have found where the university has been storing the damaged statue and its base.

A large crowd rallies at the Silent Sam Confederate monument on UNC’s campus in 2017 as student Michelle Brown speaks. (Photo by Joe Killian)

University officials wouldn’t confirm the location, but campus police are guarding the outdoor storage yard off of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Chapel Hill. Photos taken at the site seem to match the statue’s base.

The monument, erected in 1913 as part of a what historians call a new wave of white supremacist sentiment, was torn down by protesters after decades of controversy and attempts to legally secure its removal. Its damaged remains have been kept by the school in what officials say is an undisclosed but secure location as its return to campus has become increasingly unlikely.

Conflicts over the toppling of the statue and how to respond played into deep tensions with the UNC Board of Governors that led to the resignations of both former UNC System President Margaret Spellings and former UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt.

The men who replaced them — Dr. Bill Roper as interim UNC System President and Kevin Gusciewicz as interim chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill — have both gone on record saying the statue should not return to the campus.

With UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith reversing position to oppose the statue’s return, there is no longer even a timeline for any decision on the monument’s future.

As Policy Watch reported last month, UNC-Chapel Hill trustees have recently said they are open to revisiting the idea of renaming buildings on campus named for white supremacists and enslavers.

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