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Board of Governors Rejects Plan To Build History Center To House Silent Sam

Updated 3:20 p.m.

The board overseeing North Carolina's public universities has rejected the UNC Trustees' plan for a center to house a Confederate statue known as Silent Sam on the Chapel Hill campus. Instead, the Board of Governors passed a resolution to have several of its members work with leaders at the Chapel Hill campus on a new plan. That revised plan is due March 15.

"The goal here is nothing more than to get it right," said Chair Harry Smith at the meeting. "And so we want to make sure to take the time, energy and effort in working in concertion and in complete partnership with the leadership team on ensure that we're truly doing the right thing here."

Smith cited safety and costs as concerns with the plan proposed earlier this month by the Chapel Hill campus trustees to build the new $5 million history center on the outskirts of campus.

In a tweet, UNC-Chapel Hill officials said:

Several dozen protesters gathered outside of Friday's meeting, watched by a heavy police presence. Some protesters held signs with messages including "No Racist Statues."

Silent Sam: A Long History Of Opposition And Support

"Silent Sam" had stood on a main campus quad from 1913 until it was torn down by protesters who decried what they described as its racist origins.

UNC isn't the first university to grapple with Confederate monuments and ultimately decide to move one indoors. The University of Texas has removed several Confederate statues from outdoor display, including a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis taken down in 2015 and now displayed in a museum.

North Carolina's law on historical monuments allows relocation in only narrow circumstances, such as to preserve the artifact or because of construction. Under the state law, a new location for a monument must be similarly prominent and accessible.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jason deBruyn is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Digital News, a position he took in 2024. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016 as a reporter.
Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
Elizabeth “Liz” Baier is an editor for WUNC. She has two decades of experience than span print, audio, and digital reporting and editing.
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