UNC chancellor resigns, approves ‘Silent Sam’ removal

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt on Monday announced that she will resign and has authorized the removal of a controversial Confederate monument on campus.

“Silent Sam,” a statue erected in the middle of campus more than 100 years ago, was toppled by protestors last August, but its base and commemorative plaque remained in place.

“There has been too much recent disruption due to the monument controversy,” Folt said in a statement on the university’s website. “The presence of the remaining parts of the monument on campus poses a continuing threat both to the personal safety and well-being of our community and to our ability to provide a stable, productive educational environment.”

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The statue was erected by the North Carolina Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1913, at a time when Confederate memorials proliferated throughout the South. It was dedicated to “the sons of the university who entered the war of 1861-65 in answer to the call of their country.”

In August 2018, more than 200 protestors gathered at the school’s Peace and Justice Plaza before marching toward the statue that opponents say is a monument to white supremacists and slave owners. Multiple people were arrested following clashes between supporters and opponents of the monument.

Folt, who became chancellor in 2013, acknowledged after the incident that the statue was a “source of frustration” but called its impromptu removal “unlawful and dangerous.”

The university proposed a $5.3 million plan to create a new “history and education center” to house Silent Sam in December 2018. This plan drew more protests and was quickly rejected by the school’s board of governors due to concerns about safety and the use of state funds for the project.

The base and tablet of the statute will be “preserved until their future is decided” Folt said in her statement. The university’s board of trustees issued a statement of support for Folt’s decision to remove the monument and step down.

“We thank Chancellor Folt for working tirelessly to elevate our University each and every day to serve the people of North Carolina and beyond,” the statement read. “The chancellor has ultimate authority over campus public safety, and we agree Chancellor Folt is acting properly to preserve campus security.”

Contributing: John Bacon, Joel Shannon and Nicquel Terry Ellis, USA TODAY

Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg

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