Fitzhugh Brundage is a UNC history professor who focuses on American history since the Civil War. His most recent research focuses on white and black historical memory in the South since the conflict. The Daily Tar Heel staff writer Audrey Wells spoke with Brundage on Confederate monuments in North Carolina.
The Daily Tar Heel: What are some of the more notable Civil War and Confederate monuments in your opinion?
Fitzhugh Brudange: There are two confederate memorials on the state capitol grounds, so that’s a very conspicuous spot. Silent Sam is obviously one of the most conspicuous in the state, both because it is so famous but also because of its location on the campus. The flagship university makes it very prominent. This is a state with almost no Civil War battle sites, unlike a state like Virginia or Tennessee, so we don’t have very many spaces in the state that are dense with monuments from the Civil War.
DTH: Are these monuments more historically crucial than the Confederate flag, especially with the debate around the Confederate flag in South Carolina?
FB: If the Confederate battle flag is taken down, it’s a very important political statement, a very important development, but, in terms of what I’ll call historical preservation, it doesn’t make any difference at all. Monuments, on the other hand, are artifacts which I have no issue with a majority of people in a community wanting to move a monument or remove a monument or to erect more monuments. But of course, I hope they will preserve the monument itself in some way because (it is) a historical artifact. It’s interesting who erected it, how they raised the money for it and what they erected it for. I would rather see it preserved than destroyed, but that’s separate and apart from removing it.