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The Daily Tar Heel

NAACP members meet in Orange County, call for historical accuracy statewide

Fifty years ago today, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, banning literacy tests and other discriminatory voting practices that had been implemented in Southern states after the Civil War.

On this anniversary, the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the N.C. NAACP, and other community leaders gathered at the old Orange County courthouse to argue against a bill that bans the removal of Confederate monuments. This bill was recently passed by the N.C. House of Representatives.

Duke professor Timothy Tyson spoke to criticize the notion that Confederate monuments were built to celebrate Southern heritage. Instead, he said, white North Carolinians built such monuments after white supremacy campaigns had taken control of the government — more than fifty years after the war. 

Tyson noted only one side of North Carolina’s racial history gets monuments in the state — the Confederates.

“The notion that the Confederacy represents white North Carolina’s heritage is not historical but political,” Tyson said. “This law is not about history as it is about current power arrangements.”

NAACP Field Secretary Laurel Ashton expanded upon Tyson’s remarks. 

“The lie of Southern heritage is more than just a lie — it’s a tool,” she said.

The Rev. Robert Campbell, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, remarked upon the power of diversity in a democracy. The Vietnam veteran praised the American flag — a flag that stands for unity, a flag that binds us together regardless of race, creed or color, he said. 

“When we went into battle we were a diverse group, but we were unified,” he said. “We are here today to say we will not go back. We are moving forward, not one step back. Diversity is what democracy looks like. Hate has no place in our society.”

Barber rose to speak against the Confederacy and against the recently passed bill.

“The Confederacy was wrong then, and its philosophy and constitution and symbols are just as wrong today,” Barber said.

He called for Gov. Pat McCrory to remove his signature from the recent bill and not to bleed education dry.

“Governor, please don’t cancel liberal arts at any of our universities, and instead take a class in history.”

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