Virginia General Assembly Democrats passed a law on Jan. 11 permitting cities and counties to “remove, relocate, contextualize, cover or alter Confederate war memorials.” In 2018, the Confederate memorial statue referred to as “Silent Sam,” at my alma mater the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, was pulled down by protestors. In the aftermath there is still controversy regarding what is to be done with the statue going forward. In the most recent alumni journal, there was an article about this with a quote by a communications professor (from New York) that disturbed me. I wrote to him stating so and we started a dialogue. Below are excerpts from what I wrote to him regarding my feelings about the attacks on the South and Southern culture.
I have been distressed to continually find that the South I grew up in is almost unrecognizable at times and that the Southern way of life and history is constantly under attack and misrepresented. The destroying of history is what all totalitarian states do first. The vast majority of those fighting for the Confederacy did not own slaves. There were many different reasons that people fought, mainly defending their homelands from those telling them what to do. The South was decimate, and countless husbands, sons and fathers were gone forever. Monuments like Silent Sam were erected to honor the dead by Southern families. Silent Sam was not erected until 1908, which tells you how much time it took for the South to transition from an occupied state and to save up the money to pay for it. My great-grandmother, when widowed, had to marry an older widower to keep a roof over her head. When her father died, my grandmother had to leave school in the eighth grade to work in a mill to support the family. My mother remembers bathing in a tin tub in the kitchen and did not have indoor plumbing until she was 12 years old. You cannot find anything online about the suffering and poverty of white Southerners during Reconstruction and for decades afterward.
It seems unjust to me that people who move to the South from other parts of the country often seem to do their best to change it. They attack a way of life that they can’t understand, and often don’t want to understand. The constant stirring up of emotions unnecessarily fosters people not trusting and feeling resentment towards each other
I never experienced racial disharmony when I was growing up in North Carolina. An acquaintance of mine who is 20 years my senior, and a UNC alumnus as well, remembers racial segregation but I do not, which shows how much had changed in the South in two decades. Now, it appears that race relations have been set back by decades due to people stirring up the past unnecessarily and not focusing on how much things have changed towards the positive. How can this be a positive step for our country?