Mayor Pam Hemminger and the Chapel Hill Town Council have repeated a call for the permanent removal of the Silent Sam Confederate
Chapel Hill leaders on Friday sent UNC Chancellor Carol Folt a letter once again asking the university to find a new home for Silent Sam, the Confederate monument toppled from its base last month
“Prominent placement of the Silent Sam monument at McCorkle Place in downtown Chapel Hill is an offense to the entire Chapel Hill community, including African-American students, faculty members, university employees, local residents, and business persons who call Chapel Hill home, as well as to returning alumni and the countless fans and tourists who visit our Town every year,” read the letter from Mayor Pam Hemminger and the Town Council.
“To them and to us, Silent Sam and its roots in pro-slavery, pro-segregation ideology represent the antithesis of the high value that UNC and the Town of Chapel Hill place on being a welcoming and inclusive place for all.”
Friday’s letter is at least the second time Hemminger has asked Folt to relocate the statue, erected in 1913 on the McCorkle Place quad a few steps from Franklin Street.
In August 2017, shortly after activists toppled a Confederate statue in downtown Durham, Hemminger asked Folt to petition the state’s historical commission to place the monument in storage, saying “the statue presents a danger to students on campus and the Chapel Hill community.”
Folt had said then that she supported moving the monument but cited a 2015 law that prohibits removing historic statues from public property.
Last month, after 26 arrests and four protests, Folt seemed more inclined to act.
“Silent Sam has a place in our history and on our campus where its history can be taught,” she said in a statement, “but not at the front door of a safe, welcoming, proudly public research university.”
The university has not said where the statue, which fell largely intact after activists pulled it down Aug. 20, is currently being stored.
In a news release, town officials said its latest letter is meant to be part of the community dialogue that Folt has initiated on alternatives for Silent Sam that she plans to present to the UNC System Board of Governors by Nov. 15.
The letter signed by Hemminger and the entire council was copied to Harry Smith Jr., chairman of the UNC System Board of Governors; UNC System President Margaret Spellings; and Haywood D. Cochrane, Jr., chairman of the UNC-CH Board of Trustees, among others.
Smith, at least, has indicated he is not ready to predict next steps.
In a phone interview after Folt’s most recent statement he said he was “very disappointed” with the chancellor’s “hasty release with such strong statements on her opinion on the relocation.”