“We are not afraid of the ‘slippery slope.’ We are not afraid of beginning this work necessary for change,” senior organizer Blanche Brown read from the manifesto. “We don’t ask: ‘Where does it stop?’ Instead we ask: ‘Where does it start?’”
Another counterargument is that the campaign is seeking to revise history.
“We are not trying to ‘revise’ history,” the manifesto states. “We are trying to challenge the injustices etched in the stone of our present in order to influence our future.”
The final point the manifesto addressed was that William Saunders’ involvement in the Ku Klux Klan does not extinguish the good he did for the University.
The manifesto states that this argument ignores the context of racial inequality that allowed him to achieve what he did.
The demands outlined in the manifesto also include placing a plaque on Silent Sam to contextualize its history and instituting a mandatory training program for incoming students about the racial history of both the University and Chapel Hill and an anti-racism training for faculty, staff and administrators.
The final demand was the right to challenge and change institutions they believe are racist.
Senior Dylan Mott said the group spoke to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp about these trainings. Mott said their goal is to have it ready for the incoming freshmen.
Mott said he thinks the chancellor has the power to place a plaque on the monument, citing previous conversations with former chancellor Holden Thorp.
Brown said the plaque never materialized because former administrators feared retaliation in the form of budget cuts from the N.C. General Assembly.
The Board of Trustees agreed to review the coalition’s proposal at its March 26 meeting.
Mott is optimistic about the meeting.
“It’s always a difficult question. I don’t like predicting the future,” he said. “But I do think we are in a good position to negotiate these things.”
Brown said the group is organizing events on the days leading up to the meeting and plans to have a presence at the meeting.