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Head to the Pit on Tuesday to watch 'the Unsung Rise'

Faculty Exec Meeting

Jerry Wilson (right), doctoral student in Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement, wore nooses to the Faculty Executive Meeting on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 with peer Cortland Gilliam a doctoral student in Cultural Studies and Literacies. “We decided we would wear the nooses around our necks for 2 reasons, we wanted to symbolize the violence of white supremacy to which that Silent Sam monument. But secondly as a manifestation of the pain that black members of the Carolina Community carry around with them all of the time knowing this university doesn't care enough about them to remove open symbols of white supremacy", says Wilson. 

UNC artists and speakers will explore the connections between the Unsung Founders Memorial in McCorkle Place, the murder of James Cates in 1970 and Maya Little’s upcoming Honor Court appeal with a dedication in the Pit. 

The dedication will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. leading up to Little’s Honor Court appeal. This will be the second time Little has appeared in front of the Honor Court. Little decided to appeal the charges she received in October at her first appearance, which resulted in her receiving a letter of warning and 18 hours of community service. 

The dedication is titled “After the Fall, the Unsung Rise” and will include speakers and artistic performances. 

Gina Balamucki, a law student, is Little’s representative for the trial. She said this artistic dedication is not only meant to uplift Little and what she stands for, but all of the unsung heroes of UNC.

“Organizers and student activists and Maya work to highlight the ways that we tell other histories,” Balamucki said. “And when we make room for other histories we can allow these unsung heroes, particularly Black and brown marginalized people, to have their voices and their stories brought to the fore and shine.”

Balamucki said she wants to emphasize that the event is not only about what she said have been injustices against Little, but also about “historical inequity” at UNC. 

“Maya has tried to use her notoriety to raise up the voices of other people and other causes,” Balamucki said. In April, Little was arrested by UNC police for putting red paint on Silent Sam

Balamucki said that people are showing support for Maya by coming to an event that is about the broader history of UNC. In the midst of Black History Month, the event is a marker of Black history on campus and discusses the endorsement of lynchings of Black students by Julian Carr, the murder of James Cates and the Unsung Founders Memorial, dedicated to the slaves who built UNC, in McCorkle Place.

UNC graduate student Cortland Gilliam will be speaking at the event. 

“I thought this might be the time to share some of my own works that touch on the significance of Maya’s actions,” Gilliam said. 

He said while his piece does not directly address Maya, part of the piece touches on the necessity of the form of engagement that she’s taken part in.

Gilliam wears a noose around his neck, which symbolizes white supremacy at UNC, whenever he is on campus as half of a protest performance art duo. He said his goal is to advance the conversation about white supremacy at UNC. 

“White supremacy doesn’t solely exist on McCorkle Place,” Gilliam said. 

Gilliam said the duo wanted a mobile symbol they could take anywhere so people can always engage with them.

Jerry Wilson, another graduate student, is the other half of the protest art duo. He said he will be speaking from the heart at the Pit event.

“I was at Maya’s first Honor Court trial,” Wilson said. “The anger and disbelief over how that went down — it still hasn’t left me yet.”

Wilson said he is looking forward to what he hopes is an “active narrative” that pushes students to fight for justice.

“Justice is elusive,” Wilson said. “The University just continues to fall far below where I hoped they’d be in matters concerning race.”

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