“Down South, people are still fighting the Civil War.” Most people are familiar with this sad but true reality of how the South grapples with its racist history. Even a first-year from New Jersey realizes that many people at UNC and from the South in general still glorify the legacy of the Confederacy, a society largely built off of the slave system.
On campus, anyone walking through McCorkle Place will encounter the large statue of Silent Sam lording over any other monument on campus. It is clear our University has historically valued the Southern “lost but glorious cause” narrative — ignoring the tyranny inherent to the Confederacy.
After all, it is somewhat ironic that a University devastated by the Civil War would go to such great lengths to defend its legacy. Before the war, UNC was one of the most attended schools in the United States and produced nationally recognized alumni.
The school did somehow manage to keep classes going throughout the war. But the war would destroy all the progress the first public school in America had made to that point. Due to war debts, lack of student interest and the financial effects of the war, the University of North Carolina had to close its doors for four years after the South surrendered.
We may be the oldest public university, but we cannot claim to be in continuous operation. Further, the war destroyed the South’s economy, making it difficult for many Southerners regardless of background to socially advance.