“We didn’t brave the elements of rain and ice and cold to debate with anyone,” Miranda Jones said, addressing a multiracial crowd gathered along West Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem to support removal of the Confederate statue on Sunday.
came on the side of right to demand that this Confederate statue come down,”
Jones said. “We came to demand that the toppling of this statue will also be
the toppling of the systems that crush black people.”
the street, a white group, almost exclusively men, responded by raising their
voices to sing “Dixie.”
has been calling for the removal of the Confederate monument on the grounds of
the Old Forsyth Courthouse since August 2017. In the wake of the Unite the
Right rally in Charlottesville, which resulted in the murder of an antiracist
protester, Jones held a small protest at the Winston-Salem monument with a
colleague and spoke to city council. The reaction from monument supporters was
swift: Her school received a letter stating, “Keep your Democratic hands off
our statue, you piece of s***. The statue’s not the reason the schools are
failing.” And one commenter said on the Winston-Salem
Journal website that Jones needed to “be gutted like a fish.”
learning that a neo-Confederate group planned to rally in support on the
monument, Jones organized a counter-demonstration, Get Hate Out of
Winston-Salem. Democratic Socialists of America, the International Socialist
Organization, Revolutionary Action Movement, Young Democrats of Forsyth County
and Fearless Winston-Salem co-hosted the event, which also drew allies from
Greensboro and Orange County.
and other speakers said antiracists shouldn’t feel like they have to choose
between struggling against symbols of the Confederacy and against current manifestations
of white supremacy.
tied to a system of white supremacy,” Jones said. “It’s tied to the disparity
in wealth and health. This is the beginning of a fight. This is not the end. We
don’t want the most marginalized and oppressed people in our society to have to
see that statue, and we don’t want the most marginalized and oppressed people
in our society to be affected by the systems that put this statue in place.”
the street, Nancy Rushton, a neo-Confederate activist from South Carolina, mingled
with members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Rushton was one of the
organizers of an Heirs to the Confederacy Monument Support Rally. The Facebook
event for the rally had called on supporters to appear at the location of the
toppled Silent Sam monument at UNC-Chapel Hill throughout the morning, and then
travel to Winston-Salem to lay flowers at the base of the Confederate monument here
at 2 p.m. Instead, Rushton said she decided to skip Chapel Hill, and come
directly to Winston-Salem to stand with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In
Chapel Hill, about 35 antiracists gathered in the bitter cold to oppose the
non-existent neo-Confederate rally.
Some of the antiracists across the street in Winston-Salem taunted Rushton about her plans to attend a neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan-affiliated rally at Stone Mountain in Georgia next month. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association denied a permit to the rally based on the organizers involvement with a previous event co-organized by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, Aryan Nations, Aryan Terror Brigade and the North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The Facebook page for the event makes no attempt to hide its ideology, with explicit appeals to white supremacy and posts celebrating the late neo-Nazi activist Gary Yarborough and the British neo-Nazi band Screwdriver.
responded to a question about her plans to attend the event by saying, “I don’t
agree with a lot of things that are said.”
here for my heritage,” she said. “It has nothing to do with hate. I don’t think
I’m better than anyone. I have ancestors that are Confederate veterans. I’m
here to honor them. They’re Confederate heroes.”
of those standing with the neo-Confederates in Winston-Salem on Sunday was
Gorrell Pierce, the former leader of the Federated Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Pierce’s Klan faction clashed with communist antiracists in the late 1970s. He
said they screened Birth of a Nation
at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem in 1978. And in February 1979,
the Federated Knights organized a Klan memorabilia exhibit at the Forsyth
County Library that was disrupted by the Revolutionary Communist Party. In July
1979, Pierce’s group clashed with the Worker Viewpoint Organization, a rival
communist organization led by Nelson Johnson, in China Grove. Pierce opted not
to bring his group to Greensboro for the fateful confrontation in November 1979
which resulted in the deaths of five antiracists.
68-year-old Pierce said on Sunday that he’s not a member of the Klan anymore,
and doesn’t know if the Federated Knights of the Ku Klux Klan still exists. He
thinks many of the former members are likely dead. He also said he doesn’t think
highly of the current groups that call themselves Ku Klux Klan.
a bunch of idiots that say they are Klan,” Pierce said. “All they do is scream
hate. The don’t scream pro-American. They’re just a bunch of hell-raisers.”
arguing that people opposed to the statue should be more concerned about crime
— he used the racially coded terms “gangbangers” and “drive-bys” — Pierce
added, “If everybody would agree to move it to Salem Cemetery, that would be
very solution has been proposed by the Mayor Allen Joines. The city and the owner
of the ground on which the statue stands have both given the United Daughters
of the Confederacy a Jan. 31 deadline to remove the statue.
rose around 2 p.m. as antiracists, who had previously kept to the sidewalk,
moved into the street, and the two sides exchanged insults. The moderators of
the Get Hate Out of Winston Facebook event had cautioned that supporters should
not engage in civil disobedience, “cross the planter surrounding the statue,”
or engage neo-Confederate activists.
chanted, “Money for jobs and education, not for statue preservation,” and, “Freedom
must be defended, slavery never ended.”
“We live in a world that gives a monument to domestic terrorists who fought for enslavement, and leaves slaves in unmarked graves” said Destiny Blackwell, whose enslaved ancestors lived in southern Virginia. “That’s racism. We live in a world that builds itself for the glory of white people and for the oppression of black people. That is white supremacy.”
Rev. Carlton Eversley, pastor of Dellabrook Presbyterian Church, noted that the
keynote speech for the 1905 dedication of the Confederate statue in
Winston-Salem was given by Alfred Waddell, a white supremacist who led a racist
coup d’etat against multiracial democracy in Wilmington only seven years earlier.
can draw a straight line from this statue to Trump calling Mexicans ‘rapists’
and drug dealers,” Eversley said. “You can draw a straight line from this
statue to separating children from their families.”
Rev. Paul Robeson Ford, pastor of First Baptist Church on Highland Avenue,
“As difficult as it is for my brothers and sisters — and they are my brothers and sisters — across the street to recognize and acknowledge this fact, there is a fact that needs to be understood,” he said. “The men who died fighting for the Confederate cause, died for the wrong cause. They died to keep black men in chains, black women at the service of white male slaveowners. They died to keep black children never believing they could be anything other than field n***ers or step-and-fetchit house negros.
“That statue is coming down,” Ford vowed. “By any non-violent means necessary that statue is not gonna stand there because that statue is an abomination.”
Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.
We believe that reporting can save the world.
The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.
All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.