Silent Sam has become the most controversial figure at UNC over the past year. The statue, which celebrates those UNC students who fought to continue the practice of slavery, has been placed under significant scrutiny after the Charlottesville protests last year.
The consensus among the majority of people at UNC seems to be that Silent Sam should be removed. Some believe that it should be put in a museum somewhere, while some think that perhaps it should merely be disposed of.
Let me begin by saying that I understand that the statue has caused — and is causing — pain to certain members of our community. I also know that I will never fully understand the type of pain that our Black community members go through when they see this type of legacy on our campus.
Despite this, it would be wrong to remove Silent Sam from his place on campus.
Silent Sam is a not merely a symbol of the oppression of slavery but also a reminder of the human propensity for evil. To move him to a museum or to simply throw him away would be to remove a public reminder of our ability to abuse our fellow man. We should not seek to protect ourselves from the painful memories of the past but remember them so as to prevent ourselves from committing future atrocities. For this is what I believe the legacy of Silent Sam should be, a constant reminder of the way that we can abuse our fellow humans.