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.
In the fall of 1918, students were preparing for battle. In August, Congress had lowered the draft age from 21 to 18, and as part of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), students drilled daily, anticipating the day that their numbers would be called. However, before they could be sent to fight in Europe, they found themselves fighting a deadly enemy on their own campus—influenza.
The first wave of the global “Spanish Flu” pandemic began in the spring, followed by a much deadlier second wave in the early fall. By September 1918, it had spread to North Carolina. Concerned parents wrote to university president Edward Kidder Graham, fearful for their children’s health.
The campus was quarantined in October, and second-year medical students and local nurses were recruited to work in the overflowing infirmary. Three students died in a span of less than two weeks, and on University Day, 1918, no public gathering was held. After a few weeks, the situation seemed to be improving. In an October 19th letter to a parent, President Graham noted that there were 30 students in the infirmary and 20 convalescing—significantly fewer than the nearly 130 hospitalized a week before.
However, just two days later President Graham himself fell ill. Within days, he developed pneumonia as a complication of influenza. As the campus grew concerned about his condition and hoped for his recovery, the SATC commander asked that students not disturb Graham by marching or performing drills near his house. After less than a week’s illness, Graham died.
The next day, all classes and military drills were cancelled, and students were asked to “demean themselves in a quiet manner” in respect for the president. On October 31, Dean Marvin Stacy was appointed chairman of the faculty and assumed leadership of the university. Over the next two months, the war ended, the SATC disbanded, and the health crisis began to wane. However, influenza remained a serious threat. In January, 1919, Stacy also died of pneumonia as a complication of influenza, just less than three months after the death of his predecessor by the same illness.
By the spring, the global pandemic was ending. Over the course of the epidemic on campus, over 500 were treated for influenza in the infirmary and seven died—students William Bunting, Larry Templeton, and Kenneth Scott; nurse Bessie Roper; President Graham; Mrs. W.J. Hannah, a mother who caught the disease while caring for her son; and Dean Stacy.
On December 5, 2012, the world lost one of its greatest Jazz musicians, Dave Brubeck. You may or may not be able to name his musical pieces, but you most certainly have heard some of them, especially “Take Five”, perhaps the best remembered piece of the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
The RTVMP records include audio recordings, a program, and program notes of the first performance of Brubeck’s oratorio, The Light in the Wilderness as well as audio recordings of an interview conducted with Brubeck.
On January 9, 1968, Brubeck premiered the oratorio at Hill Music Hall. According to the interviews, Brubeck chose UNC as the site of the premier because of his friendship with Dr. Lara Hoggard (1915-2007), Kenan professor of music at UNC from 1967-1980 and founder of the Carolina Choir. Dr. Hoggard conducted the oratorio, which also included the Chapel Hill Choral Club and the Carolina Choir.
Here is an article about Brubeck and the oratorio from the Daily Tar Heel:
A copy of The Light in the Wilderness Premiere Program (Source: Audiotape T-40086/205-206, Records of the Dept. of RTVMP, #40086, University Archives, Wilson Library):
A copy of The Light in the Wilderness Program Notes (Source: Audiotape T-40086/205-206, Records of the Dept. of RTVMP, #40086, University Archives, Wilson Library):
Listen to Brubeck discuss the oratorio, his reasons for choosing UNC for the premier of the oratorio, the disbanding of the Brubeck Quartet, and other things in these interview clips:
Thanks to Steve Weiss, curator of the Southern Folklife Collection, for bringing these materials to our attention, and to John Loy, audio engineer extraordinaire in the Southern Folklife Collection, for converting the audio recordings of the interview.
Eighty-one years ago this week, Langston Hughes visited UNC and gave a reading at Gerrard Hall, which was preceded by the publication of an essay by Hughes on the Scottsboro Boys in Contempo, a local periodical, alongside his poem “Christ in Alabama.” While not an official student publication, Contempo was coedited (along with Anthony J. Buttitta) by Milton Abernethy who was a law student at UNC at the time. (The magazine’s archive is held in the Southern Historical Collection.)
Hughes’s essay and poem caused quite a stir among some local residents and led to a flurry of editorials and articles as well as a slew of angry letters sent to then-President Frank Porter Graham. Many letters are collected in the Frank Porter Graham Records in University Archives.
One critical letter came from K.P. Lewis, secretary and treasurer of the Erwin Cotton Mills Company (see oral histories related to the company in the Southern Historical Collection). Lewis wrote to express his outrage and, since he was to become a university trustee the following year, inquire what university policy allowed “this Negro [. . .] to use the buildings at the University.”
President Graham’s response to Lewis describes Buttitta and Abernethy as “taking advantage” of Hughes, convincing him to write a “sacrilegious poem and sensational article,” both of which Hughes read at the Gerrard Hall performance.
Contempo’s editor, Anthony Buttitta, also wrote to President Graham. His letter describes his fellow editor’s decision to leave UNC to join William Faulkner in New Orleans. Buttitta later did the paperwork and footed the bill to make Milton Abernethy’s withdrawal official.
Not all of the letters to President Graham were negative, however. A librarian at the Virginia Theological Seminary and College wrote to President Graham to request that they be added to Contempo’s mailing list.
The UNC campus is no stranger to controversial art. The Confederate Monument known as “Silent Sam” has a long history of causing controversy. It was erected in 1913 to honor the university students that fought to defend the south in the Civil War. The “Unsung Founders Memorial,” a memorial to the unrecognized African American slaves and laborers who helped build the university, was designed as a counterpoint to “Silent Sam.” Yet it too has garnered its own amount of criticism. Considering the nature of public art as public, it is to be expected that this form of art will spark debate.
In October 1990, the sculpture “The Student Body,” by artist Julia Balk, was installed in front of Davis Library. Almost immediately some UNC students expressed disapproval of some of the statues, which they believed promoted racial and gender stereotypes. The work consisted of a group of seven bronze figures, including an African American male figure twirling a basketball on his finger, an African American woman balancing a book on her head, an Asian American women carrying a violin, and a white woman holding and apple and leaning on her male companion’s shoulder.
The Daily Tar Heel, Black Ink, and the Chancellor’s office received hundreds of letters regarding the perceived racist and sexist overtones of the sculpture. Students, faculty and even the larger community got involved in the heated discussion. The debate even gained national attention, appearing in a New York Times article.
Some groups, like the Minority Caucus and the newly formed Community Against Offensive Statues, demanded the sculpture be moved to a less prominent location. Others wrote in defense of the sculpture and cited the oversensitivity of the offended parties as the problem, not the art. Although opponents of the sculpture acknowledged that the artist meant no harm, they still viewed the work as inappropriate. In a four page letter found in Chancellor Hardin’s files, the artist, Julia Balk, explains and defends her conception of the statues:
As its creator, I cannot help but respond to the debate that has arisen over my sculpture, “The Student Body.” Although I believe a work of art should speak for itself, in this case, unfortunately, my voice is not being heard. Nor is my sculpture being seen for what it is—seven students co-existing in a harmonious group [. . . .]
I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the four figures which have been the focal point of discussion. First, the basketball player [. . . .] The figure is rendered as an African American because it has been made with reverence for the talent of an extraordinary athlete. It is neither racist nor stereotypical. If I had made him a white male, I might just as easily have been criticized for ignoring the contribution made by African American Athletes to the University [. . . .]
(Letter by Julia Balk, from the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Paul Hardin Records #40025 University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Over the course of this dispute, the statues were repeatedly vandalized. At one point the figure of the basketball player was knocked over and the basketball was stolen. The picture above, which is from a recently acquired, unprocessed collection of photographs from Black Ink magazine, shows the sculpture in that compromised state. Another act of vandalism was acknowledged by Chancellor Hardin in a letter to Balk for which he apologizes and refers to the debacle as “an over-reaction.”
Shortly after the incident, university officials elected to repair the basketball player and it was decided that the sculpture would be moved from out in front of Davis Library to a spot behind Hamilton Hall. At a later date, the basketball player and the figure with the violin were removed without any explanation.
On October 12, 1961, Present John F. Kennedy came to UNC at Chapel Hill to celebrate University Day.
William C. Friday, president of the Consolidated System of North Carolina (before it became the University of North Carolina system) remembers that day:
It’s an experience to go through a visit of the President of the United States. . . . I had called every high school around here. Because I wanted the children to have the experience I had. . . . We invited all the faculty here. And everybody in town. And they filled the place up. It was a glorious day of sunshine. . . . Well, the big limousine rolled up, and Governor Sanford got out, and President Kennedy walked up to me and said, ‘Happy Columbus Day.’ October 12 was Columbus Day also. And that meant a lot to him, you know. . . . A lot of people asked, you know, “What did he say to you?” Well, I say, “Well, his first question was, ‘Who won the game last Saturday?'”
(Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, December 3, 1990. Interview L-0147. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.)
The UNC University Archives is pleased to announce the donation of a precious artifact from the Xi Chapter of St. Anthony Hall (Delta Psi) and the St. Anthony Association of North Carolina, their associated alumni organization. This artifact is an autograph book that includes the signatures of members of Delta Psi and other UNC fraternities from the 1860s, many of whom served in the Confederate Army and several of whom were killed during the war.
The Xi Chapter of Delta Psi was founded on November 20, 1854, making it the second oldest fraternity still in existence at UNC. The chapter was dormant for some years during the University’s post-Civil War ban on all fraternities and secret organizations. In 1926 Grahame Wood (U. Penn 1895) organized efforts to revive the Xi chapter at UNC. Xi has thrived since that time.
William C. Prout, brother in St. Anthony Hall, graduate of UNC’s class of 1865 and the original owner of the autograph album, presented the signature book to the re-founded Xi chapter in 1927. It has since been kept in the Xi Chapter’s extensive archives and was professionally restored in recent years under a grant from the St. Anthony Educational Foundation. St. Anthony Hall and the St. Anthony Association of North Carolina moved to gift this item to the University Libraries due to its uniquely personal and historically valuable nature as well as its appeal to the University community as a whole.
The autograph album includes the signatures of students who attended UNC from 1862-1865, as well as other biographical data: the names of their girlfriends, their major area of study, their profession, the titles of courses taken, and their hometowns. Brothers Prout and Wood later added death dates and annotated some of the entries to identify those who had been killed in the Civil War or had died.
In addition to signatures of St. Anthony Hall members, the book was passed around to other fraternities at UNC for their signatures. Among the names from these other fraternities are Wesley Lewis Battle, who was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg and was the brother of UNC President Kemp Plummer Battle; Julian Shakespeare Carr, tobacco manufacturer and namesake of Carrboro; Fredrick A. Fetter, a tutor at UNC and son of the longtime UNC professor, Manuel Fetter; and M. A. Curtis, Jr., son of the Episcopal priest and noted mycologist whose family’s notes, diaries, correspondence and other papers are housed in the Southern Historical Collection.
This autograph album is a significant acquisition for the University Archives and does much to help its efforts to document student life at UNC. St. Anthony Hall intends to donate additional historical materials that document its history and the various activities in which its members have participated since the chapter was reorganized in 1927 after having closed in the aftermath of the Civil War.
St. Anthony Hall is a literary, artistic and social fraternity comprising a diverse group of writers, artists and performers. Brothers and sisters of St. Anthony Hall are highly active in student life, working at times as editors and staff of the Daily Tar Heel, Phoenix magazine, Cellar Door, LAMBDA magazine, Shakespeare’s Sister, The Sixty-Niner and Yackety Yack; as elected and appointed members of all branches of Student Government; as competitors in intramural and Carolina Athletics sports programs; as performers in a variety of choral and musical groups; and in productions by PlayMakers and The LAB! Theatre.
Sisters and brothers of St. Anthony Hall have also been a part of many literary and artistic organizations in the larger community, including Paperhand Puppet Intervention, The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, The Performance Collective, Internationalist Books, The Somnambulist Project, The People’s Channel and many others. St. Anthony Hall hosts a Xi Chapter alumni reunion weekend called Swingout every spring.
Rush and pledge periods are held every semester on a schedule independent from most other fraternity rush periods. Fall ‘12 rush is going on at this time. For information on rush activities contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notable members of the Xi chapter include journalist Charles Kuralt ‘55, soccer coach Anson Dorrance ‘74, book critic Jonathan Yardley ‘61, sportswriter Peter Gammons ‘67, editorial cartoonist Jeff MacNelly ’69, and basketball player Charlie Scott ’68, the first African-American to join a fraternity and receive an athletic scholarship at UNC.
Known for its support of progressive causes, St. Anthony Hall was one of only two fraternities to sign a pledge in 1963 not to patronize businesses and restaurants in Chapel Hill unless they desegregated. Its members were active in the fight to end the Speaker Ban and in the spring of 1971, the chapter became the first UNC fraternity to go co-ed.
St. Anthony Hall has eleven chapters around the country, the first of which was founded at Columbia in 1847. In addition to UNC and Columbia, the other schools with chapters are University of Pennsylvania, Trinity College, University of Rochester, Princeton University, Brown University, University of Mississippi, Yale University, University of Virginia, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As the college soccer season gears up, University Archives staff have unearthed some records from a golden era of women’s soccer at UNC.
Mia Hamm was at the height of her powers while playing for coach Anson Dorrance on the UNC women’s soccer team from 1989-1994. Hamm led the Tarheels to four NCAA championships, and finished her collegiate career as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all-time leading scorer in goals, assists, and points.
Although we may remember Brandi Chastain’s jersey-stripping antics at the 1999 Women’s World Cup, it was Mia Hamm’s earlier goal that propelled the team toward victory. Through that and subsequent tournament wins (including Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2004), Hamm helped change the way the world viewed women’s soccer. Hamm continues to be remembered as one of the University of North Carolina’s greatest athletic alumni.
The following memoranda were written by Associate Director of Athletics Beth Miller and Director of Athletics John Swofford, regarding some of Hamm’s achievements at UNC. These documents form part of the Records of the Department of Athletics (#40093) in the University Archives in Wilson Library.