Undersigned Faculty Statement on Silent Sam

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The undersigned UNC School of Law faculty respectfully request that the UNC administration take immediate action to remove the monument of an armed Confederate soldier, known as Silent Sam, looming at the heart of UNC’s main campus. While we do not favor shutting down the ability of individuals to voice disagreeable opinions, we believe that the statue sends a message of white supremacy that the university should refuse to endorse.

On June 2, 1913, at the monument’s public dedication, Confederate war veteran Julian S. Carr said, “The present generation, I am persuaded, scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo Saxon race. . . . if every State of the South had done what North Carolina did . . . the political geography of America would have been re-written.” He then told this story: “less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings.”

From the moment of its dedication, Carr’s racist words cemented the monument as a symbol of white supremacy, violence and indignity. Even today, UNC’s website acknowledges that many see Silent Sam as “a glorification of the Confederacy and thus a tacit defense of slavery.” To many in our community, the armed soldier expresses the idea that some in our community are not equal.

This disparaging and marginalizing symbol has no place at the core of an inclusive learning environment. We also believe that the message it sends undercuts the University’s mission “to teach a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to become the next generation of leaders.” We are particularly concerned about the statue’s symbolism given the Board of Governors’ recent ban on representation or counsel by the Center for Civil Rights.

Maintaining this monument undercuts the value of equality protected by North Carolina law and the United States Constitution. We note that federal law obliges the University to provide an inclusive learning environment free of racial hostility. Out of concern for public safety, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger called for the monument to be moved, and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper advised UNC that North Carolina law permits the University to remove or relocate the statue. 

We stand with our students and faculty who have sought legal counsel to request the statue’s removal in order to affirm their dignity and equal place in our community. If the University remains uncertain of its legal ability to act, we ask it to seek a declaration in court to affirm UNC’s right to remove the statue. This path would spare our students and faculty from the distraction, expense and pain of suing their home institution.

As our students and community look to the UNC administration and faculty for guidance, we must answer them with meaningful action. For all of these reasons, we request the immediate removal of this divisive symbol to affirm our commitment to the value of equality enshrined in the United States Constitution.

Kimberly C. Bishop, Clinical Professor of Law

John Charles Boger, Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus

Kenneth S. Broun, Henry Brandis Professor of Law Emeritus

Patricia L. Bryan, Henry P. Brandis Distinguished Professor of Law

Andrew Chin, Professor of Law

John Martin Conley, William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor of Law

Charles Edward Daye, Henry Brandis Professor of Law Emeritus

Maxine Eichner, Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Law

Kate Sablosky Elengold, Clinical Associate Professor

Barbara A. Fedders, Assistant Professor of Law

Laura N. Gasaway, Paul B. Eaton Distinguished Professor of Law Emerita

Deborah R. Gerhardt, Associate Professor of Law

Michael J. Gerhardt, Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law

Melissa B. Jacoby, Graham Kenan Professor of Law

Eisha Jain, Assistant Professor of Law

Thomas A. Kelley III, Paul B. Eaton Distinguished Professor of Law and Interim Director of Clinical Programs

Joseph E. Kennedy, Martha Brandis Term Professor of Law

Catherine Y. Kim, George R. Ward Term Professor of Law, Associate Professor of Law

Joan H. Krause, Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor of Law

Holning S. Lau, Willie Person Mangum Distinguished Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Faculty Development, and Faculty Director of the LL.M. Program

Peter Nemerovski, Clinical Associate Professor

Gene R. Nichol, Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law

Donna L. Nixon, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and Electronic Resources Librarian

Beth S. Posner, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law

Richard Rosen, Professor of Law Emeritus

Kathryn A. Sabbeth, Associate Professor of Law

Maria Savasta-Kennedy, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Externship Program

Richard S. Saver, Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law

Theodore M. Shaw, Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights

Craig T. Smith, Assistant Dean for the Writing and Learning Resources Center and Clinical Professor of Law

Kathleen DeLaney Thomas, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of UNC School of Law Tax Institute

Judith Welch Wegner, Burton Craig Professor of Law Emerita

W. Mark C. Weidemaier, Ralph M. Stockton, Jr. Distinguished Professor

Arthur Mark Weisburd, Reef C. Ivey Distinguished Professor of Law

Deborah M. Weissman, Reef C. Ivey Distinguished Professor of Law

-October 26, 2017

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