Silent Sam critics and supporters address UNC trustees

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Speakers address UNC Board of Trustees about the Silent Sam statue

The UNC-Chapel Hill trustees listened to dozens of people who signed up for the public hearing portion of the school's board meeting Wednesday. At issue: Silent Sam, the Confederate statue facing Franklin Street that makes some people uncomfortable while others say it stands for their ancestors or those who left their homes in North Carolina to fight in the Civil War.

Holding a Confederate battle flag, Heather Ahn-Redding told the trustees: "I hope everyone is distracted because this is what Silent Sam is like on campus. A distraction, and it's uncomfortable."

Others criticized the statue's advocates.

Tom Hardy said, "Those who think that Confederate monuments like Silent Sam are harmless reminders of our past are deceiving themselves, or haven't done their homework."

Another man criticized students and faculty who continue their calls for removing the statue.

"You can hear from every voice around you that this is the noble cause," said Reece Boston, "and yet be so very wrong."

Maya Little said too much money's been spent maintaining Silent Sam since 2014: "That is $40,000 to maintain a statue that glorifies the enslavement of my ancestors. That was dedicated by a man who took pleasure in beating a black woman on our campus, that was erected by a group who praised the KKK as protectors of white womanhood. "

A lengthy, passionate statement from Eunice Brock ended with her declaring, in a shaky voice:

"My feeling is to leave Silent Sam where he is."

That sparked enthusiastic applause by one man.

While the board took no action on the statue removal demand from critics, Chancellor Carol Folt praised the organizers and participants.

"I know that it took a lot of courage for people to stand up here and say who they were and give their name, and tell us what they felt, said Folt. "I don't know if grateful is the right word to express how important that is."

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