Organizers say the monument is under siege after twice being spray-painted and blindfolded. Over the last year, student activists have called for the removal of Silent Sam.
The statue was erected in 1913, ostensibly to commemorate university students who died fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
However, historians including UNC’s Fitzhugh Brundage say the monument is inextricably linked to white supremacy, as it was put in place by leaders like Julian Carr, who sought to redeem the cause of the Confederacy and reinforce racial segregation in the Jim Crow era.
Approximately 120 people have signed up to attend the rally. Participants plan to meet at Fat Boyz Saloon in Graham and form a convoy to travel to Chapel Hill.
UNC police say they are aware of the event and prepared for a crowd. At least one group of UNC students has begun organizing a counter-protest.
Silent Sam has been a point of contention recently as discussions have been held about monuments and memorials on campus – discussions that ultimately led to the changing of the name of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall. The building’s former namesake, William L. Saunders, was purportedly the leader of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina and was Secretary of State in North Carolina after serving as a Colonel for the Confederate Army in the Civil War.
Silent Sam was spray painted twice since early July. The first time with the words “Murderer,” “KKK” and “Black Lives Matter” being spray painted on the statue’s base over the July 4 holiday weekend. Then on the first day of classes in August, the phrase “Who is Sandra Bland?” was spray painted on the memorial.
As part of the decision to rename Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall, the UNC Board of Trustees also voted to place a 16-year freeze on renaming or removing monuments and implement an education and curation effort. A task force charged with planning those historical markers and exhibits was announced last week.