Demonstrators Toppled One of North Carolina’s Confederate Monuments. Now the State Needs to Finish the Job. | Triangulator | Indy Week
Pin It

Demonstrators Toppled One of North Carolina’s Confederate Monuments. Now the State Needs to Finish the Job. 

click to enlarge 8.16_tri_graphic_web_version2.png

On Monday, in response to the weekend’s events in Charlottesville, demonstrators in Durham with the Workers World Party and other leftist groups brought down a statue atop a monument to “the boys who wore the gray,” which had stood in front of the old county courthouse since 1924.

While the Durham Police Department seemed content to wash its hands of the matter, the Durham County Sheriff’s Office was not. On Tuesday, the DCSO announced that it would seek charges against those who vandalized the monument.

Even some who believe the monuments should be torn down—including Governor Cooper—chided the demonstrators for their tactics. “The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable,” Cooper tweeted, “but there is a better way to remove these monuments.”

Except there’s not.

In 2015—after a white supremacist massacred nine people at a black church in South Carolina—the General Assembly passed a law blocking local governments from removing them without the state’s permission.

There are about a hundred monuments to the Confederacy in North Carolina. They weren’t erected immediately after the war to honor the fallen; rather, most were built decades later to send a message to African Americans about who was really in charge. They are monuments not to the Civil War’s dead but to white supremacy itself, and the fact that they exist on government property in 2017 is shameful.

They need to come down—legally if possible, though we’ll not shed any tears for the toppled Durham monument or any others that meet a similar demise. At minimum, the legislature should allow municipalities to reflect the desires of their residents, not force us to “honor” those who fought in service of white supremacy.

The neo-Nazis in Charlottesville—ostensibly marching to protest the removal of a monument to Robert E. Lee—weren’t there for historic preservation. They were there because they understand what these monuments are really about.

We should, too.


Orange County

Memorial to Civil War Soldiers of the University
Chapel Hill, UNC campus
Dedicated: 1913
What You Should Know: “Silent Sam” is a memorial to the 321 UNC alumni who died during the Civil War. (The bronze statue is actually modeled after a former Boston policeman and was sculpted by a Canadian.) During its dedication, former Confederate soldier and industrialist Julian Carr recalled that just one hundred yards away, he had “horse-whipped a Negro wench, until her skirt hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady.”


Durham County

Confederate Monument
Durham, Old Durham County Courthouse
Dedicated: 1924
What You Should Know: Before this fifteen-foot-tall monument to “the boys who wore the gray” was toppled by demonstrators Monday night, it stood alongside smaller monuments to soldiers in World Wars I and II as well as Korea and Vietnam.


Wake County

Confederate Monument Holly Springs, United Methodist Church
Dedicated: 1923
What You Should Know: Erected in front of the Leslie-Alford-Mims House, the twenty-nine-foot-tall monument now sits off to the side of a church parking lot. Inscriptions list the names of the dead, while plaques on the sides remember “their sons who were in” the Spanish-American War and First World War.

Confederate Monument Raleigh, State Capitol Grounds
Dedicated: 1895
What You Should Know: When this seventy-five-foot-tall monument to the Confederate dead was proposed, Republicans and populists argued that its $22,000 cost would be better spent on education. They also protested a special tax used to subsidize the monument’s construction.

Henry Lawson Wyatt Monument Raleigh, State Capitol Grounds
Dedicated: 1912
What You Should Know: Wyatt was the first Confederate soldier to die in the Civil War. He fell on June 10, 1861, in Bethel— a fact in which North Carolinians took great pride. For decades after the war, they argued that Wyatt’s death was a testament to the state’s loyalty to the Confederacy.

Monument to the North Carolina Women of the Confederacy Raleigh, State Capitol Grounds
Dedicated: 1914
What You Should Know: This seven-foot statue was erected to honor the hardships faced by Confederate women during the war. It shows an older woman passing along a history of the Civil War to a young boy.

Samuel A’Court Ashe Monument
Raleigh, State Capitol Grounds
Dedicated: 1940
What You Should Know: Ashe was the Confederacy’s last surviving commissioned officer; he died in 1938 at the age of ninety-eight. Ashe was also a legislator, newspaper editor—he purchased the Raleigh Daily Observer and merged it with the Raleigh Daily News in 1880—and writer, best known for his book A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and the War of 1861–1865, in which he called President Lincoln a “usurper.”

More by Jeffrey C. Billman

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Triangulator



Twitter Activity

Comments

I'm sorry, but this building is ugly. There are so many old, beautiful buildings in Durham that should be preserved. …

by dolver on Preservation NC Says the DPD’s Soon-to-Be-Former HQ Isn’t Just Another Government Building (Triangulator)

This story appears to have been recycled a handful of times. Didn't Jedidiah Gant used to work for the Indyweek? …

by chiburbbi on Raleigh Businesses Team Up to Help Houston’s Hurricane Harvey Victims (Triangulator)

Most Recent Comments

I'm sorry, but this building is ugly. There are so many old, beautiful buildings in Durham that should be preserved. …

by dolver on Preservation NC Says the DPD’s Soon-to-Be-Former HQ Isn’t Just Another Government Building (Triangulator)

This story appears to have been recycled a handful of times. Didn't Jedidiah Gant used to work for the Indyweek? …

by chiburbbi on Raleigh Businesses Team Up to Help Houston’s Hurricane Harvey Victims (Triangulator)

In 1986 I joined the IBEW and its local union 379. The Union and Apprenticeship thought me how to become …

by Scott Thrower on The Boss: N.C. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan on Shattering Stereotypes and Organizing in an Antiunion State (Triangulator)

Hell yeah, MaryBe! Let's organize the South!

by Jeremy Sprinkle on The Boss: N.C. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan on Shattering Stereotypes and Organizing in an Antiunion State (Triangulator)

The union I am a member of saved my life. It provided a good wage, which allowed me to buy …

by Ash Lee Aitch on The Boss: N.C. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan on Shattering Stereotypes and Organizing in an Antiunion State (Triangulator)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation