One year after Confederate statue in Durham toppled, its fate still uncertain

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- Tuesday marks one year since the Confederate statue in Durham was toppled by protesters.

Charges against the protesters were later dropped.

The Durham City-County Committee on Confederate Monuments and Memorials is hosting public meetings until October.

Co-Chair Robin Kirk said they will make a recommendation about what to do where the monument once stood.

"With the issue of Confederate memorials and the issue of the Civil War, this brings up a lot of complicated questions about racism, about violence, and about inequality that have yet to be resolved really in our society that still are very present," Kirk said.

UNC-Chapel Hill Professor of History Fitz Brundage created a website mapping nearly 40 Confederate memorials in the Triangle area.

He said the toppling of the Confederate statue in Durham has brought some changes.

"What has changed is there is much more awareness, not only of the prevalence of Confederate monuments in the Triangle and in the state but also an earnest debate about what we should do about those monuments," said Brundage.

William O'Quinn is also a part of the Durham City-County Committee on Confederate Monuments and Memorials. His family has been in the area for 250 years and he would like to see the statue restored.

"It represents all of our relatives who did fight in the war," O'Quinn said. "Any kind of history needs to be remembered even if you don't agree with it. You can learn from it. If it's not here, questions may not be asked."

Since the toppling last year, Professor Brundage said only one Confederate monument in the Triangle has been removed. Duke University, a private university, removed the General Robert E. Lee statue from the chapel on campus after it was vandalized.

A 2015 state law prevents the removal, relocation or altering of historical monuments on public property, without the approval of the N.C. Historical Commission.

The N.C. Historical Commission will make a final decision on whether to remove Confederate monuments from the State Capitol grounds in Raleigh.

Meanwhile, the controversial Confederate statue Silent Sam, on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, continues to draw protesters.

"It took decades to put those monuments up and I think we should expect it'll take at least a few years to figure out what we're going to do with them," Brundage said. "I think this is a marathon not a sprint."

The committee will hold a meeting next Thursday at City Council chambers at 7 p.m.