Graffiti on Silent Sam: 1968 and 2015

Last weekend,”Silent Sam,” the Confederate memorial located on McCorkle Place, was spray painted with “KKK,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Murderer” with an arrow pointing to the Confederate soldier above. The monument was covered before being cleaned a few days later. The incident highlights Silent Sam’s place … Continue reading

Last weekend,”Silent Sam,” the Confederate memorial located on McCorkle Place, was spray painted with “KKK,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Murderer” with an arrow pointing to the Confederate soldier above. The monument was covered before being cleaned a few days later.

The incident highlights Silent Sam’s place in the ongoing discussion of race, campus landmarks and spaces, and university history. It also reflects the renewed push against the display of Confederate symbols since the racially-motivated attack in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17.

However, while the action was timely given these current contexts, it isn’t a first. Most strikingly, in early April 1968, as the country was gripped by grief and unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Silent Sam was splashed with red paint and its base covered with words and symbols.

Silent Sam, circa April 7, 1968. From the Hugh Morton Photographic Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive, Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill.
Silent Sam, July 5, 2015. From Twitter, via Stephanie Lamm (@slamm_5)
A student volunteer cleans graffiti from the base of "Silent Sam,"  April 8, 1968. From the Daily Tar Heel,  April 9, 1968, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill.
Workers clean Silent Sam, July 7, 2015. From the Daily Tar Heel, July 9, 2015. http://bit.ly/1CrjLHq

 

 

 

Silent Sam Turns 100

This Sunday, June 2, 2013, the Confederate Memorial, better known as Silent Sam, turns 100 years old.    The statue was dedicated with great fanfare and celebration a hundred years ago on June 2, 1913.  Over the recent decades, Silent Sam … Continue reading

This Sunday, June 2, 2013, the Confederate Memorial, better known as Silent Sam, turns 100 years old.    The statue was dedicated with great fanfare and celebration a hundred years ago on June 2, 1913.  Over the recent decades, Silent Sam has become a symbol of controversy, caught between those that believe that it is an enduring symbol of racism and white supremacy and defenders who contend that it is a memorial to those UNC students who died and fought for the Confederate States of America. Could it be both?

Below are digital copies of some documents from the dedication and about UNC’s involvement in the statue’s erection.  Read the text and decide.

Page from Julian S. Carr's dedication speech, June 2, 1913

Page from Julian S. Carr’s dedication speech, June 2, 1913

The next page of Carr's dedication speech

The next page of Carr’s dedication speech

Letter from UNC President Francis P. Venable regarding the design of the Confederate Memorial ("Silent Sam"), February 25, 1910

Letter from UNC President Francis P. Venable regarding the design of the Confederate Memorial (“Silent Sam”), February 25, 1910