CBC Editorial: Tuesday, July 13, 2021; Editorial #8683
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.
Could it be true?
“White supremacists feel safer on this campus than Black students,” said Julia Clark, vice president of the University of North Carolina’s Black Student Movement.
Her comments came after two self-described “western chauvinists,” brandishing Confederate battle flags, threatened to vandalize a memorial on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus to the enslaved and freed African-Americans who helped build the university.
They posed for videos that were posted on twitter. One of the men said: “It’d be nice” to have “a couple of slaves.”
It has been 70 years since Kenneth Lee, Floyd McKissick and James Walker enrolled – following a court order — at the University of North Carolina Law School – the first African-American students at UNC.
The slow-but-steady progress toward a campus that truly embraces ALL North Carolinians has hit a tragic detour. It seems the painful struggle that too many endured to get the state and its public universities on the righteous path is being retrodden.
It is just more evidence that “white privilege” isn’t a politically-charged slogan but an unfortunate reality.
Facts are facts.
The now removed “Silent Sam” Confederate soldier statue that stood at the heart of the campus entrance was a memorial to white supremacy. Here’s what Julian Carr said at the June 1913 dedication:
“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 to-day, as a consequence the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States – Praise God.”
After the statue came down, campus and university system officials started negotiating with the state chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to pay them$2.5 million to preserve the statue. The deal fell through a state Superior Court judge ruled, following a challenge by university students, faculty and civil rights groups, that the Sons of Confederate Veterans didn’t have legal standing to negotiate for the statue.
Over the last few months, the campus has been witness to a mean and bitter struggle that was much less about the qualifications and achievements of Nikole Hannah-Jones to be a tenured faculty member as it was about the degree to which the legacy of slavery and racial discrimination remains and pervades our society. The meandering tenure approval process – in stark contrast to the direct route for others in similar situations – only piled on more evidence mostly from the deniers that discrimination remains all too present.
In a case of way too little and way too late, the UNC trustees on the last day of June agreed to grant Hannah-Jones tenure – which she rejected as token and insincere.
“These last few weeks have been very dark. To be treated so shabbily by my alma mater, by a university that has given me so much and which I only sought to give back to, has been deeply painful,” she said in a July 6 statement. … “The Board of Trustees wanted to send a message to me and others like me, and it did. I always tell college students and journalists who are worried that they will face discrimination, who fear that they will be judged not by their work but for who they are or what they choose to write about, that they can only worry about that which is in their own control: their own excellence. I tell them all they can do is work as hard as possible to make themselves undeniable. And yet, we have all seen that you can do everything to make yourself undeniable, and those in power can change the rules and attempt to deny you anyway.”
The fallout has been devastating. Top scholars are declining offers to come teach at UNC; current faculty are departing or thinking about it; current students are looking at alternative places to continue their studies as perspective students don’t even put UNC on their list.
Less than a week after the Hannah-Jones debacle, self-avowed white supremacists are un-challenged or confronted by authorities as they desecrate a campus memorial.
“Glass, China, and Reputation, are easily crack’d, and never well mended,” Ben Franklin reminds us in Poor Richard’s 1760 Almanack.
Seventy years of reputation repair shattered. This is nothing for anyone to take any satisfaction from.
Acknowledge the damage now. Work to diversify the UNC Board of Governors and the individual campus boards of trustees, faculty and student bodies. Start the mending.
Capitol Broadcasting Company’s Opinion Section seeks a broad range of comments and letters to the editor. Our Comments beside each opinion column offer the opportunity to engage in a dialogue about this article.
In addition, we invite you to write a letter to the editor about this or any other opinion articles. Here are some tips on submissions >> SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
#UNCs #hardearned #reputation #shattered #lingering #racism #difficult #mend #WRALcom