The Symbolism Of Silent Sam

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The official entrance to the campus of the University of North Carolina is a green field called McCorkle Place. In the middle of this field on a pedestal, a large bronze statue, Silent Sam, stands. Silent Sam was requested by the North Carolina chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1908, to memorialize the 300 UNC students who died fighting for the Confederacy during the civil war. Since the statue’s completion in 1913, Silent Sam has had many meanings to many different people around Chapel Hill. In the 1960s, debates over Silent Sam’s symbolism and place on UNC’s campus gained public attention for the first time. To this day, protests, demonstrations, writings, and debates- both for and against the statue- have drawn in students and community members. Julian Shakespeare Carr was a Confederate veteran who gave a commencement speech at the unveiling of Silent Sam in 1913. Silent Sam, along with many other Confederate monuments, was built during the height of the Jim Crow laws in the South. Carr himself was “a self-described architect of Jim Crow,” envisioning an all-white North Carolina. The anti-black sentiments of the South at the time and of he himself, are evident in Julian Carr’s commencement speech on June 2nd, 1913 as he alludes to his memory “One hundred yards from where we stand” of having “horse-whipped a negro wench… because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady…” He describes this,

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