CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) - More than a dozen locals issued another challenge about Silent Sam to the UNC Board of Governors Friday, during a public session before a board meeting.
Among the speakers before the board was Chapel Hill-Carborro NAACP President Anna Richards, who asked the board several questions.
“Think about what messages we are sending,” Richards questioned. “What message do we want to send? What are we standing up for? What are we representing in this community?”
Other advocates to remove Silent Sam echoed those questions and added further concerns, including student, Nicho Stevens, who told the board how a fellow student called him and some African-American friends the "n-word."
“Your decisions have enabled people like the guy who called me and my friends the n-word on Franklin Street,” the business major said. “And to be honest, us students are tired of it!”
Stevens’ mom, a UNC alumnae, called on the board to make a decision.
“My heart hurts that this symbol of white supremacy that stands for the fight to own another human being is standing tall in a place of prominence at the university that I love so much,” Nancy White said.
Before the public speakers left, Chair Harry Smith addressed them.
“I do appreciate the fact that you guys come out today, and if we can keep it healthy— we’ll do all we can to try and have a conversation,” he said.
Smith did not tell these locals exactly what’s next, and when asked about the controversy at a press conference, he said he made a made a mistake during a previous interview when characterizing these advocates as just “six protesters” and “don’t let the vocal minority outweigh the silent majority.”
One graduate student told CBS 17 that she’s disappointed by the chair and board.
“They have made it clear that they don’t really represent the views of the common students and faculty and graduate students and workers on campus,” explained Alyssa Bowen.
CBS 17 brought these concerns to the board chair and UNC System President, asking if a decision on the statue would be made before students arrive for the school.
Margaret Spellings said administrators hands are tied by state law, and that UNC Chancellor Carol Folt is assessing what implications the Confederate monument will have on campus next month.
Statement on ‘Silent Sam’ from UNC Board of Governors Chair Harry Smith
University of North Carolina Board of Governors Chair Harry Smith released the following clarifying statement regarding the monument ‘Silent Sam’ located on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill:
“The UNC Board of Governors respects each of the varying opinions within the University community concerning this matter. However, after consulting with legal counsel, neither UNC-Chapel Hill nor the UNC System have the legal authority to unilaterally relocate the Silent Sam statue. Thus, the board has no plans to take any action regarding the monument at this time, and we will await any guidance that the North Carolina Historical Commission may offer.”