Silent Sam is a point of attention on the UNC campus once again.
Pictures began circulating on social media mid-morning on Wednesday showing what appeared to be a confederate bandanna blindfolding the statue, which serves as a memorial to Carolina students who died during the Civil War fighting for the Confederacy.
Silent Sam, which was erected in 1913, 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.
UNC released the following statement after the incident:
“We respect the passionate opinions many have on the issues of race and place at Carolina, and we also understand the need to freely express those points of view. However, we believe there are more productive ways of engaging, such as the Carolina Conversations sessions and other events that bring people together to discuss important issues.”