Is this Silent Sam? UNC officials won’t say

By Charlotte Ix and Grace Wilson

These objects concealed under tarps were seen in a UNC storage area. (Charlotte Ix / Carolina Connection)

After protesters toppled Silent Sam last August 20, UNC hauled off the Confederate monument in a truck. But university officials have never said where it went.

Now, Carolina Connection’s Charlotte Ix may have discovered where the parts of the monument are being stored, including the metal figure of the soldier, as well as the stone pedestal and base that were later ordered removed by then-Chancellor Carol Folt.

Ix was originally tipped off about the storage site by her roommate in May.

“We were sitting in my apartment when she happened to mention that she knew the location of Silent Sam,” Ix said in a report for Carolina Connection’s radio newscast.

Her roommate had visited earlier with a different friend, but didn’t want to tell Ix how they knew where the statue was.

Skeptical of her story, Ix asked her roommate to take her there. They ended up at a UNC storage yard off of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Chapel Hill.

“Twenty minutes later, we were staring over a fence at a shady figure covered in a tarp,” Ix reported. “That moment in the dark, I still wasn’t sure what I was looking at.”

After that night, Ix was unable to forget what she may have seen. Still curious if it really was Silent Sam, she decided last week to visit the same place again, but this time in daylight:

I headed down MLK and took a familiar turn onto a shaded road. Up past a few buildings and behind another, I parked my car and hopped out. I walked through a small bit of brush to the same fence. It was a wire fence covered with a screen so you couldn’t see through. It had barbed wire lining the top. I pulled a nearby trash can over to stand on and get a better view. Looking over the fence, this time in the daylight, it was obvious to me what I was looking at.”

Ix saw a large, metal figure covered with a brown tarp. It appeared to be the Silent Sam statue lying on its back with its rifle pointed towards the sky.

Behind the figure is something large and rectangular, wrapped in a blue tarp. It matches the size of the pedestal that the soldier was mounted on.

Beside the figure were three stone squares sitting uncovered. The stones matched the statue’s base which once supported the pedestal. The tallest stone is clearly missing what it once supported.

Following her visit to the site, Ix contacted university officials to confirm that what she saw was Silent Sam. UNC-Chapel Hill Director of Media Relations Joanne Peters Denny replied in an email, “I am unable to identify what is in the photo.”

When Ix went back to the storage site after the email exchange, she saw a police offer guarding the area. It was the first time she saw a guard there.

The UNC Board of Governors had planned to make a decision about the statue’s fate in March, but board members have postponed that decision indefinitely.

Silent Sam in its former location in McCorkle Place. (Don McCullough / Flickr).

 

 

5 Comments

  1. “board members have postponed that decision indefinitely”

    Meaning that Silent Sam will sit under a tarp off Airport Rd forever. I attended and taught at UNC-CH in the 1990s and walked past Silent Sam on a daily basis. No one noticed and no one cared about the statue — the only “controversial” thing about the statue was the saying that he was called “Silent Sam” because his rifle would go off when a virgin walked by.

    Shame to see UNC-CH tacitly condoning mob rule. If they wanted Silent Sam removed, they should have lobbied to pass a law to remove it. Allowing a mob to tear down the statue, then allowing a chancellor to have the pedestal removed in the middle of the night, is nothing more than cowardice in the face of facism masquerading as “tolerance”

    First they start pulling down statues, then they start pulling down people ….

  2. Funny that you were a professor – yet not familiar with the concept of research.
    Yet, a quick google search would reveal to you that a Graduate student in the UNC History Dept. rediscovered a speech by Carr at the unveiling of the statue, where he stated:
    “The present generation, I am persuaded, scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo-Saxon race during the four years immediately succeeding the war, when the facts are that their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South. When ‘the bottom rail was on top’ all over the Southern states, and today, as a consequence, the purest strain of the Angl0-Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States — Praise God.
    I trust I may be pardoned for one allusion, howbeit it is rather personal. One hundred yards from where we stand [on Franklin Street], less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted an maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison, and for thirty nights afterward slept with a double-barrel shotgun under my head.”

    There were protests all throughout the 60s, 70s, and even 90s – but the discovery of this speech reignited the controversy. So, the initial part of your comment is very misleading.

    As for the second half, I would like to challenge you to consider that the heavily gerrymandered State Legislature is not representative of the University’s beliefs (where among Professors and Students the prevailing opinion is it should come down) and it was forcing the University to keep it up – against the will of the Chapel Hill community and UNC-CH. It was mainly outside instigators that provoked controversy and tried to keep the statue in place … not the stakeholders in the matter.

    To the Republican legislature, this is another battle in the “culture war.” To most UNC students, it is a common-sense decision to not celebrate white supremacy.

  3. “Funny that you were a professor – yet not familiar with the concept of research”

    “There were protests all throughout the 60s, 70s, and even 90s – but the discovery of this speech reignited the controversy. So, the initial part of your comment is very misleading.”

    Protests against Silent Sam during the 1990s? Since you’re claiming I have an unfamiliarity with “research” (laughable, if you knew you I am and what I did for the university), please cite an article from the Chapel Hill Herald or even the DTH that describes anti-Sam protests in the 1990s. I, quite literally, walked past that statue every day, multiple times per day, throughout the 1990s, spent most of my day and many evenings / weekends on the campus, and had countless undergrads in my classes — and not a peep about Silent Sam.

    Frankly, the mob attacks on Confederate symbols, monuments, etc. is a relatively new, post-Obama phenomenon. Again, since you’re taking the “research” angle, please cite ANY confederate monuments that were pulled down by a mob prior to, say, 2010.

    I’m not defending slavery, racism, etc. — they are all abhorrent. But I also won’t defend either mob rule or people who believe that laws don’t apply to them if they are “morally wrong”. If you really believe that pulling down statues (or their pedestals!) will fix the racial injustice in our society, then YOU are part of the problem.

  4. “As for the second half, I would like to challenge you to consider that the heavily gerrymandered State Legislature is not representative of the University’s beliefs”

    Gerrymandered? May I remind you that the Democrats held the NC legislature for over 100 YEARS and were the authors, among other things, of the famous “lightning bolt” 12th congressional district that was specifically, openly, and unapologetically designed to ensure a black Democrat would win?

    I might also remind you that Chapel Hill does, in fact, have congressional representation at both the local and federal levels

    If you are unhappy with the current laws protecting confederate monuments, I would suggest putting more effort into convincing voters of the correctness of your cause, rather than encouraging vigilante-style actions that do little more than encourage further lawlessness. Desegregation (et al) occurred because black leaders like MLK (remember him?) were able to convince white Americans of the righteousness of their cause.

    “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings” Watching the videos of the mob that pulled down Silent Sam, one has to wonder how much longer until they act the same way towards living human beings ….

  5. I’m amazed this excellent example of investigatory journalism hasn’t made national news.

    The fact that the university is “hiding the body” is quite telling: they want to erase Silent Sam 1984-style.

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