I-Team: Is the Confederate Statue debate old news?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Is appetite for Confederate destruction fading?
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Protests are still happening, but at a less enthusiastic rate. The I-Team explores why.

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (WTVD) -- One week in August really turned up the heat, but the movement to remove or relocate Confederate statues and monuments seems to have cooled.

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Indeed, some students continue to protest UNC's Silent Sam, but the energy and momentum for change pales in comparison to the immediate aftermath of the white supremacist march on Charlottesville on August 11-12. On that fateful weekend, a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee became the focal point of a clash between neo-Nazis and counter-protesters.

On August 14, dozens of Durham activists responded on their own, ripping down a Confederate monument in front of the Durham County Courthouse.

Seven protesters face felony charges in that case.

"We are so polarized as a society today that simply tearing them down ads to polarization," NAACP Chapel Hill-Carrboro Director Anna Richards told ABC11. "This needs courage and this needs patience."

Speaking with the I-Team, Richards acknowledges the unique opportunity presented by the events in Charlottesville; while disagreeing with how the Durham statue came down, Gov. Roy Cooper quickly announced he supported moving the monuments, declaring "We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down."

Duke University, as a private institution, was able to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from the famed Duke Chapel on August 19, but state law prohibits any action without the consent of the NC Historical Commission. According to Richards, there hasn't even been a formal petition yet to move Silent Sam.


"If you look at some of what brought about the biggest changes in the civil rights movement - they were not done overnight," Richards said, and she added, "and you know the pendulum does swing."

According to the North Carolina's Department of Cultural Resources, the Tar Heel State hosts 111 confederate statues and monuments, with 98 of them dedicated after 1900.

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