The Slatest

UNC Plans to Spend $5 Million on Facility for Confederate Statue–Slash–Metaphor for Failure to Resolve Civil War

A policeman stands amid crowd control barriers that are placed around a concrete base for the missing statue.
The platform upon which “Silent Sam” once stood on UNC’s Chapel Hill campus. Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina plans to erect a $5 million allegorical structure commemorating the United States’ continuing inability to resolve the issues that underlay the 1861–65 war between northern and southern states, its chancellor announced Monday:

Chancellor Carol Folt and the UNC Board of Trustees propose placing Silent Sam in a new, single-purpose building on UNC’s Odum Village site where it can be preserved and historically contextualized, the BOT announced Monday morning. 

That’s from the Daily Tar Heel, and to actually explain what’s going on, what UNC just announced is a proposal for a “history and education center” that will both securely display and historically “contextualize” the pro-Confederacy “Silent Sam” statue that was installed on campus in 1913 and pulled off its outdoor pedestal by protesters this August.

The proposal faces review by the University of North Carolina system’s statewide board of governors, and the local News & Observer newspaper notes that “at least one member of the system governing board has spoken out to say the statue should be put back up on its pedestal.” Some students and activists, meanwhile, argue that keeping Silent Sam on campus in any context is a concession to white supremacists. A Republican-backed 2015 state law passed specifically with the statue in mind, however, requires that any relocation of monuments on North Carolina public grounds must be approved by a state commission charged with ensuring that said monuments retain positions of “visibility” and “honor.”