CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Some board members of the University of North Carolina say an agreement they worked out means a controversial Confederate statue will never return to the college campus where it was toppled more than a year ago.
Five UNC Board of Governors members defended that plan in a column published Monday in The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer of Raleigh after the arrangement to move preserve and protect the “Silent Sam” statue met with objections.
In November, UNC announced that Silent Sam would be given to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which would be banned from placing it in any of the 14 counties where UNC campuses are located. The statue was dedicated at the Chapel Hill campus in 1913 to honor UNC alumni who fought for the Confederacy. It was toppled by protesters in August 2018. Officials later moved it to a secure location.
Board members Jim Holmes, Darrell Allison, Wendy Murphy, Anna Nelson and Bob Rucho wrote in the op ed that the approach they crafted “offered a lawful and lasting path that ensures the monument never returns” to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. They also wrote that the agreement protects and reduces the risk of violence and harm to faculty, staff and students, and offers the same for the other 16 schools in the UNC system.
The agreement calls for university officials to put $2.5 million in a private fund that would be used for expenses related to preserving the monument or potentially building a facility to house it. Officials have said no state money will be used for the fund.
The board members also revealed that they agreed that the Sons of Confederate Veterans would sign a separate agreement that would pay them $74,999 in exchange for them not flying flags and banners on UNC campuses.
Faculty members on the Chapel Hill campus have condemned the agreement and protesters marched against it. The state attorney general’s office has distanced itself from the settlement as well.
Last week, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a motion Friday to intervene and set aside the $2.5 million consent judgment.
Also last week, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation said it withdrew a $1.5 million grant intended for the Chapel Hill campus after learning of the deal.