Believe it or not, we’re still talking about Winston-Salem’s last surviving Confederate monument that once stood in front of city property on a prominent downtown corner.
But no more: The statue has been gone since March 2019 — just about a year after Silent Sam was torn down at UNC-Chapel Hill — and the city sold the building in 2014. And anyway, nobody is really sure who owns the statue, which should affect how the North Carolina Supreme Court will rule on it.
But the Daughters of the Confederacy — yes, still a thing — has laid claim to the statue, though they cannot prove ownership of it, according to arguments by Winston-Salem City Attorney Angela Carmon. And there’s no way the city will put that thing back in the public eye.
“We understand there are citizens in Winston-Salem who value that statue,” she said. “We want to put it somewhere where it’s safe… so it can be enjoyed by individuals who enjoy seeing such monuments.”
Monument backlash began long before the Charlottesville Unite the Right skirmish, where counter-protester Heather Heyers was killed by a white supremacist “defending” that city’s Confederate statue.
Most Americans did not realize how many of these monuments were put up at critical periods in US race relations, like the end of Reconstruction and beginning of Jim Crow in the late 1800s, and the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1960.
The Winston-Salem statue was erected in 1905, not long after the US Supreme Court made the “separate but equal” decision on Plessy vs. Ferguson and seven years before the city enacted a citywide segregation ordinance.
These are the days the Daughters of the Confederacy want us to remember.
Most egregious is that the DotC are asking for “reparations” for the losses they incurred from the statue’s removal and storage. This word choice is not accidental — the case for reparations due to Black Americans affected by centuries of slavery, segregation and white supremacy is well made.
Reparations go not to the oppressors, but to the people who suffered under the injustice represented by that statue, which once stood in front of the courthouse in the busiest part of downtown Winston-Salem.
But like their cause, the irony is lost.
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