I can’t be Silent about Sam

Commentary by Matt Mittan

(Warning: This post may tick some of you off but it might also set you free.)

We are living through a very tense time in our nation and I think it is imperative that we speak with moral clarity and candid truth.

NC has been thrust into the national spotlight again, on the issue of race, due to the toppling of the Confederate Monument on UNC referred to as “Silent Sam”.

Many who are angered over its desecration yell “it’s history, not hate” or “its about states rights, not racism”… The question we should be asking is not whether it should go back up or not but why was it put up in the first place and when?

Rather than argue for days on end, lets not guess but instead go to the source… The statue was put up in the Summer of 1913, during the Jim Crow era.

Here’s what UNC trustee and Confederate Veteran Julian Carr, the keynote speaker at Silent Sam’s unveiling ceremony said… (Taken directly from the transcript stored in the UNC Library achives.)

“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 Anglo-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.”

Those are the words spoken right there at the statue, the day of its unveiling, by a trustee on UNC who was the invited keynote.

Here’s how I see it… We are at a crossroads of accountability in our country’s evolution. Are we going to rise above the darker truths of our history by owning the harshness of true evils that occurred, and become the shining light we propagate that we want to be, or will we continue to deny the ugly truths that – by our refusal to acknowledge – continue to chip away at the soul of our nation?

No… You didn’t own the slaves youselves… But your denail of the actual history and the plainly articulated sentiments behind so many of these ‘monuments’ is yours to own.

When you have been shown the truth but still subscribe to a false narative then it keeps wounds open, it breeds resentment and it marginalizes fellow citizens from discovering the common goals and shared values that exist between us, within our communities.

It’s been over 150 years since the Civil War ended. But it’s been less than an hour since I’ve seen people try to justify, defend or excuse the hate that lingers in its wake.

Rise above it. Please.

(Posted from a place of #love…)

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