Make It Right Project Billboards Boost Activist Campaigns To Remove ‘Silent Sam’ Confederate Monument
Above Photo: From independentmediainstitute.org
Raleigh, N.C. — The Make It Right Project has put up two Raleigh-area billboards that support the removal of UNC-Chapel Hill Confederate monument known as “Silent Sam.” The signs, which include a photo of the statue covered by a red “X,” display the message “North Carolina needs a monumental change.” UNC students and Chapel Hill activists have been demonstrating against Silent Sam since 1968. The billboards are part of a larger campaign by the Make It Right Project to elevate and bolster protests by those who have put their lives and livelihoods on the line to remove Confederate monuments.
“For five decades, UNC administrators have ignored students’ requests to remove an homage to an army that fought to defend black chattel slavery,” said Kali Holloway, Director of the Make It Right Project. “From the moment Silent Sam was erected in 1913, when Julian Carr thanked Confederates who ‘saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race’ and bragged about how he once ‘horse-whipped a Negro wench’ near the site of the statue, it’s been clear the message Silent Sam was meant to send.”
Make It Right’s billboards are echoing broad public sentiment. Chapel Hill activists have appealed to the North Carolina Historic Commission to remove Silent Sam from the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Members of the N.C,. Historical Commission are reviewing the status of the state’s Confederate monuments. The Commission is currently considering a petition by Governor Roy Cooper to relocate three Raleigh Confederate monuments.
“The North Carolina Historical Commission has an historic opportunity to stand on the right side of history and to declare what the state’s values really are,” added Holloway. “Silent Sam pays homage to a traitorous army and nation willing to go to war to keep black people enslaved in one of history’s most brutally dehumanizing systems. He is a visible manifestation of white supremacy, and every entity that is complicit in keeping Silent Sam standing has essentially declared its support of white power and disregard for black lives.”
Local media noted that the billboards are an indicator that the battle to take down Silent Sam is being waged beyond the borders of Chapel Hill. “Silent Sam isn’t just at UNC-Chapel Hill anymore,” WTVD-TV, a local ABC affiliate, wrote. “The controversy about the Confederate monument is now plastered on two billboards in Raleigh.”
“The fact that Silent Sam has garnered attention from the Make It Right Project shows that this is a racial justice issue that affects everyone, not just North Carolinians,” said Heather Redding, a Chapel Hill activist. “If a racist Jim Crow era monument can’t be easily removed from a public university in 2018, and we are still having to tease out Lost Cause propaganda from an honest account of this country’s racial history, then we have a lot of work to do as a nation. The removal of symbolism that venerates an era of lawful white supremacy is a critical first step.”
The Make It Right Project is dedicated to working with multiple groups—activists, artists, historians and media outlets—to remove Confederate monuments and develop post-removal protocols to properly historicize and contextualize these markers. It is a project of the progressive media and advocacy organization the Independent Media Institute. To learn more about the project, or the 10 Confederate monuments it is targeting for removal, visit the project website.