LAURINBURG — From the moment Silent Sam toppled into the mud on the campus of the University of North Carolina this week, the ripple effects of right and wrong began to reverberate throughout the state and country.
Protesters toppled the statue because they believed it is an enduring tribute to white supremacy. In the aftermath many in government and in the public have been torn between agreeing with the toppling and disagreeing.
Although Scotland County is miles away, a Confederate monument sits on the county’s courthouse lawn along Biggs Street.
The Scotland County Confederate Soldiers Monument was dedicated in 1912, one year before Silent Sam was unveiled in 1913. Both were sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
According to local historian Beacham McDouglad, it was a time when people wanted to honor Confederate veterans before they passed away. Scotland County’s monument isn’t as unique as Silent Sam — its design was very basic in the 20th century and many similar statues were sold for monuments.
McDouglad understands both sides of the issue but wants to make sure that history is still being remembered, no matter what.
“It’s part of our history, if nothing else,” he said. “It was a tragic part and we need to learn from it but we also need to let historical things be bygones.”
The Scotland County monument has been moved several times in the years since first being placed. Originally it sat in the middle of the road in front of the courthouse at Main and Church streets. It was then moved onto the grounds of the courthouse after becoming a traffic hazard. When the new courthouse was completed in the 1960s, the monument moved with it and was placed in its current location. McDougald says the inside contains time capsules.
For McDougald, the monuments aren’t something that involves race anymore and instead is something to remember the tragic history of the South.
“We look back and say that they were politically incorrect,” McDougald said. “But eventually people are going to look back at us and say we were. It’s not whether they were right or wrong because it’s history and we need to learn from it.”
One of the worst things for McDougald is seeing the monuments come down because they were put up as a way to honor people who have been long dead.
Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall talked with the Herald Sun about his talks with the UNC police chief for the next steps.
“We’ll look at the evidence. We’ll look at the cases and all the circumstances,” Woodall told the Raleigh newspaper. “I understand people will want to compare this with Durham, because they are similar events and that’s natural, but we’ll take a fresh look at [our cases].”
Woodall also talked about how he had remembered the statue being controversial 40 years ago but with conversation becoming more intense now.
“If a demonstration is truly peaceful, that is one thing that can draw attention to a situation, and it can be done with a degree of respect,” he said. “But when things become violent, that’s very frightening for everybody involved — for law enforcement, for the students, for the average citizen — and that was really my concern with last night.”
Current UNC Board of Governors member Thom Goolsby is calling for those involved to face charges in YouTube videos and on Twitter.
Goolsby even tweeted that the statue must be put back up in 90 days due to North Carolina General Statute 100-21 linking the statute. The statute states that “a monument, memorial, or work of art owned by the State may not be removed, relocated, or altered in any way without the approval of the North Carolina Historical Commission.”
It was because of this statue in 2017 after the Confederate Soldiers Monument in Duraham was toppled UNC contacted the governor in hopes of approval to remove the statue. Governor Roy Cooper responded they could remove it if they felt like it caused security and safety threats but the school believed they would still be going against the statute that prevented the tearing down.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]