Julian Carr’s Great Great Great Granddaughter Supports Anti-Racist Defendants

In a letter sent to Chancellor Folt, Meg Yarnell, Julian Carr’s direct descendent has condemned her great great great grandfather’s legacy of racism and has called for UNC to drop the Honor Court and criminal charges against anti-racist activists who protested Silent Sam. 

Below is the text of the letter:

An Open Letter to the UNC Administration

I write to you, as the great, great, great granddaughter of Julian S. Carr, to advocate that UNC drop the Honor Court and criminal charges against Maya Little and the antiracist activists arrested protesting the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam. Considering the legacy of my great, great, great grandfather, who was instrumental in erecting Silent Sam and infamously dedicated the statue by celebrating the purity of the Anglo-Saxon race and the time that he “whipped a negro wench until her skirt hung in shreds,” I am grateful for what Maya did to contextualize this statue and advance the cause for its removal.

My family can trace our lineage in the United States back to early America and the shameful time when our ancestors owned slaves, a time when it was perfectly acceptable, even enviable, for one man and his kin to become rich off the unpaid labor, industry, and suffering of hundreds of men, women and children.

My great, great, great grandfather Julian Carr fought in the Civil War on side of the Confederacy, which explicitly dedicated itself to keeping this system of slavery alive. Yes, he loved his family and parts of the community in which he lived, but we must recognize that Julian was a white supremacist whose vitriolic speech and actions resulted in the pain and suffering of many.

As a white person, and descendant of Julian Carr, I cannot remain silent. Our silence as white people is complicity with white supremacy and has created a very painful world. It is a horrifying necessity to confront the reality that my ancestors participated in such shameful things, and I want to express my sorrow and deepest apologies for the profound suffering, trauma and inequality caused by the actions of my ancestors, including Julian Carr. However, apologies are not enough. Action is needed to help right these historic wrongs.

As Frederick Douglass said during an 1881 speech, “Slavery is indeed gone, but its long, black shadow yet falls broad and large over the face of the whole country.” This continues to be true today.

The founding of our country is circumscribed by multiple traumas of oppression and violence—slavery of Black people and genocide of First Nations peoples among them. As a nation we have failed to truly understand, acknowledge, mourn, and make reparations for our country’s violent origins.

This untreated wound is why is so difficult to talk about race and culture in America. It is one of the reasons we do not make meaningful headway on so many of societies’ problems such as poverty, institutional racism, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and health inequality. It is why we continue to hold onto racist and damaging memorials such as the one torn down at UNC.

By our “founding fathers’” design, white people have benefitted and continue to benefit from slavery and its contemporary semblances. As white people, we need to confront our past and take responsibility for creating real socioeconomic and racial equity and justice today. For one, we need to use the privilege history has afforded us to speak the truth and remove Confederate monuments like Silent Sam, which only serve to celebrate our nation’s ugly past and present. We should applaud the actions of Maya Little and other antiracists activists, many of whom are people of color, for putting themselves at risk to improve our communities.

Maya’s action in April 2018 was a courageous act of civil disobedience and an attempt to ameliorate the harm that white people have done. She generated thoughtful discussion around issues of white supremacy at her own expense. Those that participated in the actions against the statue in August and early September also sought to turn the tides on campus to discussions of racial inclusion and social justice. I stand proudly with them.

UNC is in a unique position at this moment in time. Silent Sam has been removed. In its absence, the university can reimagine the commemorative landscape to represent the community’s highest values. UNC can create a campus that is welcoming for all and in the spirit of its mission to serve as a center for research, scholarship, and creativity for a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to become the next generation of leaders.

Maya Little, as well as those involved in removing and protesting the statue, are some of these leaders. It would be another wound to silence or make invisible (or worse, violently eradicate) their actions, which have put UNC’s community and our nation in a greater place to collectively heal.

Sincerely,

Meg Yarnell

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Members of the UNC Community Have Tried to Remove Silent Sam for Over 50 Years

(References)

There have been many comments from those who applaud the removal of Silent Sam, but oppose the means by which it was removed. So this is an attempt to outline only SOME of the efforts activists at UNC have taken historically & today to oppose Silent Sam. The contemporary Silence Sam movement has been met by UNC’s administration with either silence or open hostility.

First some history from the UNC Archives– Between 1968 and the early 1990s, protests came in response to major local and national events in African American history. Direct action against Silent Sam began in 1968 in response to MLK’s assassination. The Black Student Movement (BSM) and the Afro-American Society of Chapel Hill High School protested in front of Silent Sam in August 1970 to commemorate of two individuals—James Cates, a black man murdered in UNC’s Pit by members of a white supremacist motorcycle gang and, William Murphy, a black man shot and killed by a highway patrolman in nearby Ayden, NC.[i] Two years later another protest in memory of Cates and led by the BSM started at Silent Sam. The L.A. race riots in 1992 spurred another mobilization. After a discussion at the Sonja Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center, BSM President Michelle Thomas led students in a march to Silent Sam. In 1997, UNC Housekeepers, who were mostly African American women, marched on MLK day to oppose institutional racism at UNC.

 
(Silent Sam after MLK’s assassination, Courtesy of UNC Archive)

For additional information on the longer history of the movement in the 1990s and early 2000s, see this tweet thread by history student A.M. Stephens.)

Now onto the direct predecessor of and partial inspiration for the current movement on campus.  Community members formed The Real Silent Sam Coalition in August 2011 to “to create honest public dialogue and provoke critical thought surrounding the monuments and buildings in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.”[ii] The Real Silent Sam Coalition created a fake plaque and affixed it the side of Silent Sam to contextualize its racist history.  The group also of successfully pushed for the renaming of Saunders Hall, which was originally named after 19th century Ku Klux Klan leader William Saunders. However, the university insisted on “Carolina Hall” rather than the Coalition’s preferred “Hurston Hall” to honor black UNC alumnus Zora Neale Hurston. UNC’s Board of Trustees responded by calling for a 16-year freeze on renaming other campus buildings.[iii]

Finally—our contemporary movement. The most recent, consistent opposition to Silent Sam at UNC began with a sizeable protest against the statue in August 2017. Following the protest, students and community members began a 24-hour sit-in.  UNC Police removed activists’ necessities—such as sleeping bags and tarps—after 10 days, arguing that “temporary structures” were not allowed.

Opponents of Silent Sam have also tried addressing the illegal nature of the statue. Attorney Hampton Dellinger sent a letter to UNC’s administration in September 2017 on behalf of students and faculty, arguing that the statue created a racially hostile learning environment and therefore violated federal law. Administrators responded by welcoming students to take their complaint to the university’s Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office.

Silence Sam activists have distributed informational flyers to passersby, particularly during sports games, to provide context for Silent Sam. This is when activists began to receive death threats.

Silence Sam activists created temporary placards around the statue and surrounding areas to add context to the statue (as if it were in a museum.) UNC Police ripped these up and threw them in the trash in April 2018.

In October 2017 Silence Sam activists initiated Boycott UNC against commercial goods on campus. Nourish UNC offered affordable food to boycotters, but when Chancellor Folt told administrators to “shut [Nourish] down immediately” for lack of permits, Nourish generously offered food for free.

Members of the Silence Sam movement have also regularly attended monthly Public Comments sections of UNC’s Board of Governors meetings to ask the statue be removed .  However, the BOG hasn’t responded since May 2017.[iv] See the most recent comments here, all of which oppose Silent Sam:

 

Many UNC academic departments have issued statements to administrators, openly opposing Silent Sam’s presence on campus.[v]  Various UNC historians have also written op eds appealing to the administration to remove the statue. [vi]

In April 2018, Maya Little, in an act of civil disobedience, contextualized the statue’s racist history by pouring her own blood and red paint on Silent Sam. She not only faces criminal charges, but UNC’s Honor Court decided to launch its own investigation, which could result in Maya’s expulsion. Various emails sent to administrators about a change.org petition with nearly 6,500 signatures that called for the Honor Court to drop their charges, UNC administration has never responded.

The UNC community rallied around Maya. You can see some of the public statements of support, including from various academic departments, here: http://silencesam.com/mayalittle/  These statements also uniformly call for the removal of Silent Sam.

A mystery group of distinguished professors at UNC  known as G17 (@G17UNCLoud), threatened to remove the statue with force, giving the administration a strict deadline. G17 did not follow through with their threat, though they maintain their twitter account.

Silence Sam activists attended a UNC Board of Trustee meeting, after administration announced it had spent nearly $400,000 in one year to protect Silent Sam. Protestors held signs showing all ways that money could have benefited community.[vii]

Most recently, UNC PhD candidate Jerry J. Wilson was so frustrated with UNC’s refusal to remove Silent Sam or to release the (doubtlessly negative) results of their 2016 “Campus climate survey,” that he announced he would wear a noose around his neck until UNC removed the statue.

 

Moving towards a conclusion, activists have attempted to remove Silent Sam from UNC for over 50 years and the current movement has used MANY techniques to do so. Yet still today UNC’s administration actively CHOOSES to ignore pleas of Silent Sam’s opponents. As recent as three weeks ago UNC system President Margaret Spellings and BOG Chairmen Harry Smith reiterated their refusal to act on Silent Sam.[viii]

Well beyond being non-responsive to UNC activists, administrators have surveilled their own students. An undercover UNC police officer was caught infiltrating the sit-in, though administrators claimed it was for activists’ own protection.

UNC administration has also shown that their interests lie with donors, rather than the wants and needs of our campus community. See various @topplethemall tweets, for example:

UNC Board of Trustee member Allie Ray McCullen even refers to Silent Sam protestors as “entitled wimps” in official emails.

 

I think highlighting the various tactics of the Silence Sam movement shows sufficiently the way that the community has exhausted the “civil” means of attracting the attention of UNC administrators. If Silent Sam was to be removed, it required a community working together.

 

Reference List

[i] The University Archive at UNC Chapel Hill, “A Guide to Resources about UNC’s Confederate Monument,” https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/silent-sam/timeline

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] https://alumni.unc.edu/news/trustees-vote-to-rename-saunders-hall-put-16-year-freeze-on-renamings/

[iv] https://www.northcarolina.edu/Board-Governors/UNC-Board-Governors-Public-Comment-Session

[v] See for example UNC’s Department of History’s statement: https://history.unc.edu/silentsam/ 

[vi] http://silencesam.com/silent-sam-in-the-press/

[vii] http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/local/article215101155.html

[viii] https://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2018/07/28/unc-board-of-governors-chair-no-action-on-silent-sam/

 

 

 

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As of last night…SAM IS SILENCED

Thank you deeply to all those who participated and made this possible.

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Silent Sam Protest – Until They All Fall

A DEMONSTRATION AGAINST SILENT SAM AND WHITE SUPREMACY

On Monday August 20th, a protest is being organized in solidarity with Maya Little, who faces both a criminal trial and an Honor Court trial at UNC for covering Silent Sam in paint and her own blood.

The demonstration is dedicated to all those who have fought and are fighting against the white supremacy that UNC upholds.

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Email the Honor Court!

Thank you to everyone who signed and shared our petition asking the UNC Honor Court to drop its charges against Maya Little. In less than a week, we received over 3,800 signatures, and the numbers continue to climb.

Let’s make sure our Honor Court officials do not ignore our petition. Please support Maya by emailing Aisha Pridgen, Director of the Office of Student Conduct (apridgen@email.unc.edu) and Courtney Bain, Graduate and Professional School Student Attorney General (cbain@live.unc.edu). Keep your emails strong yet respectful; do not engage in personal insults or profanity.

While personalized emails may be more impactful, feel free to use  some or all of the following form text if you prefer.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Dear Ms. Pridgen and Ms. Bain,

I am writing to ask you to drop the charges against anti-racist activist Maya Little. The University of North Carolina should not use its Honor Court to silence political activism or to retaliate against students who speak publicly about institutional racism at UNC. Your prosecution of Maya is unjust and unnecessary considering:

  • She already faces charges in regular court
  • The Honor Court has not prosecuted students who painted Silent Sam in the context of sports rivalries
  • Silent Sam is illegal; it violates the Civil Rights Act by creating a racially hostile learning environment
  • UNC police have not faced consequences for destroying protesters’ property (a series of historical markers aimed to educate the public about white supremacy on campus) the day they arrested Maya

For fundraising purposes, UNC claims to celebrate diversity. Yet the case against Maya fits a troubling pattern; in a predominantly white university, 56% of all academic Honor Court cases are against students of color. UNC’s Honor Court should be an instrument of justice, not a tool of institutional racism.

I am one of thousands who have signed a petition asking you to drop the charges against Maya Little. I hope our community’s widespread support for Maya will encourage you to reflect upon and reverse your decision to prosecute her.

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Petition the UNC Honor Court to Drop its Charges Against Maya Little

The UNC Honor Court has announced it will press charges against Maya Little for her act of civil disobedience against the confederate statue Silent Sam. It has been almost a full year since the university was notified that its statue violates the Civil Rights Act by creating a racially hostile learning environment. Now, UNC is prosecuting Maya for taking action against a racist and illegal object. Even if you have no connection to UNC, please help us stand up for activists’ rights and against white supremacy. Sign this petition and circulate widely.

According to a 2016 article in the Daily Tar Heel, 56% of all academic Honor Court charges are against students of color. UNC is 63% white. Let’s call on the Honor Court to be an instrument of justice – not a tool of institutional racism.

Sign our petition today, and read Maya’s full statement below:

On June 4, the UNC Office of Student Conduct officially charged me with violating the honor code by “stealing, destroying, or misusing property.” My Honor Court hearing may very well coincide with the criminal trial I already face for spilling red ink and my blood on Silent Sam. The Honor Court will determine whether my protest against Confederate monuments is conduct unbecoming of a UNC affiliate.

I can find no record of the Honor Court charging students for painting Silent Sam Carolina blue in 1982. But Daily Tar Heel records confirm that neither campus nor Chapel Hill police made any effort to arrest those students. Similarly, the paper reported that NC State students who painted Sam in 1974 were released by campus police without charges. At UNC, dousing the monument in paint in the name of basketball is deemed a pastime while doing the same to contextualize and fight racism is a crime. Revealing the racist violence upon which Sam was built — exposing a truth the university would like to keep covered — could result in my expulsion.

UNC uses its disciplinary boards to punish political activism and its police to suppress free speech. Chancellor Folt and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Safety and Risk Management, Derek Kemp, appointed an undercover police officer to infiltrate our movement and lie to and gather information on students fighting against racism. Why was it necessary to use tactics designed to entrap and engender mistrust among us? Perhaps because they are longstanding tactics of UNC administrators targeting anti-racist activists. Kemp and Folt carry on a practice that can be traced to campus police collusion with the FBI to spy on Black Student Movement (BSM) members in the 1970s. It is likely that black students protesting the 1971 murder of James Cates by a white motorcycle gang in the Pit were also targets of this surveillance.  This spring, Silent Sam protesters created a series of historical markers to educate the public about Cates’s murder and the untold history of white supremacy at UNC. When UNC police ripped apart these markers on April 30, 2018, they destroyed the only memorials to Cates that existed on our campus.

The Honor Court, Board of Trustees, and Faculty Council have stood by idly as members of campus police, Derek Kemp, and Chancellor Folt continue to violate our First Amendment rights. How long will students be punished for demanding that black lives matter at UNC?

In 2015, another activist wrote “Who Is Sandra Bland?” on Silent Sam. It was a fitting addition to a statue christened by boasts about horsewhipping a black woman who had sought safety on university grounds. Not only did UNC fail to protect her, it bestowed an honorary degree upon her attacker, Julian Carr. To this day, he holds that honorific. He is memorialized  in the names of a building I have taught in and the town that I live in. Those who speak up are silenced and targeted, but violence against people of color and women goes unpunished. That violence is then celebrated in the protection of monuments such as Silent Sam, Aycock Hall, and plaques to families including the Kenans, who built their wealth on enslaved black labor. These are the crimes I hoped to expose when I poured my own blood on Silent Sam. Now I ask, how will UNC’s Honor Court act? Will they preserve what Dr. King called “a negative peace, which is the absence of tension,” or will they stand for the rights of their peers fighting for racial equality?

It is time to truly uphold lux libertas, light and freedom, at UNC. Chancellor Folt, the Board of Governors, and Margaret Spellings have already shown their opposition to both. The student representatives of the Honor Court have chosen to investigate me, but they can still take this opportunity to act for free speech — and against white supremacy.

The students of the Silent Sam Sit-In ask that the UNC Honor Court drop all charges against me for my protest of Silent Sam on April 30.  

We ask that the proper disciplinary boards formally consider charges against university officials responsible for the continued surveillance and suppression of activists involved with protests against racist monuments.  

We ask supporters to contact the Director of the Office of Student Conduct, Aisha Pridgen, at apridgen@email.unc.edu and Graduate and Professional School Student Attorney General, Courtney Bain, at cbain@live.unc.edu to ask the Court to drop the charges against me.

We ask our supporters to demand an investigation by the Faculty Council of UNC Police, Derek Kemp, and Carol Folt for the undercover infiltration of our protest and the destruction of our signs. These actions constitute harassment, retribution, and silencing.

We ask our supporters to sign the following petition demanding the Honor Court drop charges against me for my April 30th action. (https://www.change.org/p/unc-honor-court-drop-the-charges-against-antiracist-activist-maya-little”)

As always, we ask our alumni supporters to withhold donations to the university until it removes Silent Sam and white supremacy from our campus.

I hope to see you all on August 20 at my criminal trial on a misdemeanor charge for which I could possibly spend 60 days in jail. In the face of these betrayals by officials tasked to protect us, we support each other. When one acts, we act together.

Maya Little

UNC Student and Graduate Worker

6/14/2018

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The Financial and Moral Costs of Police Presence at Silent Sam

Local media has recently called attention to the high cost of protecting Silent Sam. In an August 2017 email to Chancellor Carol Folt, UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken estimated a price tag of $1,700 per day or $620,000 per year. More alarming than the cost itself are the ways in which UNC police have put these funds to use.

This compilation of local news reports and cell phone videos (courtesy of @Move_Silent_Sam) reveals a pattern of misconduct.

Police forces around Silent Sam have:

  • Trampled and shoved student protesters at a large rally in August 2017
  • Ordered an end to a peaceful 24-hour vigil around the statue, then confiscated activists’ property
  • Sent an undercover officer to spy on protesters
  • Ripped up historical markers intended to educate the public about the history of Silent Sam, racism, and police violence on UNC campus

Campus police have treated activists as criminals, but the protesters’ goal is to bring UNC into compliance with federal law. In September 2017, an attorney notified university officials that Silent Sam violates titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act by creating a racially hostile learning environment.

Activism is not a crime; Silent Sam is. In order to maintain this racist and illegal object, campus police have employed a wide range of tactics designed to silence students – from surveillance and undercover operations to property destruction and physical force. If you are a UNC student or Chapel Hill resident, they are funding these operations with your tuition and tax dollars.

We can no longer afford to maintain this symbol of white supremacy on our campus; the financial and moral costs are too high.

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Silence Sam Film Premiere and Panel Discussion

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosts a confederate monument at its doorway. This film was made by students of the UNC School of Media & Journalism. It aims to create dialogue around the confederate monument, Silent Sam, and follows the student-led movement to remove the statue.

UNC Stone Center Theater
May 10th, 2018
Film Screening @ 6 p.m.
Panel Discussion to follow

Link to Facebook Event

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Stand with Maya on Monday

Thank you for visiting the new website of the Silent Sam Coalition.

If you support Maya Little’s brave act of civil disobedience in protest of Silent Sam, please SHOW UP on Monday, May 7 at 8 am for her court appearance (106 E. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC.) (See map below.)

Maya has received death threats and threats of violence from white supremacists in Orange County and we need to arrive in force!

There will be a rally starting at 8 am. Please be there a little early — to make sure you’re not late. Timing is everything 🙂

Map to Courthouse at 106 E. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC:

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