The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday May 26th

Hearings held for proposed African-American statue on N.C. capitol grounds

Plans for a statue commemorating African Americans on the grounds of the North Carolina Capitol are underway, and the governor's office continues to seek feedback. 

After four response sessions, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced four additional public hearings this month regarding the project. The sessions will take place over consecutive Tuesdays beginning April 12 in Winston-Salem. Asheville, Wilmington and Raleigh sessions will follow. 

“The construction of this monument has already garnered widespread support and feedback from throughout the state,” McCrory said in a press release. “These additional hearings will allow more people to play an active role in helping the state recognize the contributions African Americans have made to North Carolina.”

The project, which will cost an estimated $1 million, is being led by the North Carolina Historical Commission and the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission.

“This project was in part inspired by similar monuments in Columbia, South Carolina and Richmond, Virginia,” said Michael Hill, supervisor of the research branch at the Office of Archives and History.

Hill said McCrory endorsed this project in the fall but discussions go as far back as 2010.

“Renewed discussions came up in part as a response to the shooting in Charleston last year and the recognition of more attention to diversity in the monuments at the capitol,” he said.

The project will be funded by private donations, as well as legislative support. 

A consensus report will be developed after the public discussions, and artists will be asked for design contributions. Hill said the statue will be part of the next administration. 

And Michelle Lanier, director of the N.C. African American Heritage Commission, said the monument will help tell a more inclusive story of North Carolina’s history.

“My hope is that people who live in North Carolina will grow a deeper pride of place when it comes to what African Americans have not only contributed to our state, but to the world,” she said.

Lanier said by erecting this statue, the state is exploring another aspect of its history — one that has not always been fairly portrayed.

“To see only one demographic represented, it’s almost an erasure of community,” she said. “To have that void filled with one of those communities that haven’t been represented is a strong vocal, strong physical response. It really says a statement that we are here, we have been here, and we have made an impact.” 

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