Pittsboro, a town easily identifiable for its “artsy and hippy residents,” has gained coverage over the past several months in regards to a long-awaited decision. In 1907, Pittsboro erected a Confederate monument donated by the N.C. Daughters of the Confederacy in front of its courthouse. The Chatham County Board of Commissioners voted in August that the statue would have to be moved from that location. On Oct. 28, a Chatham County judge delayed actions to remove the monument as the N.C. United Daughters of the Confederacy were granted a ten-day restraining order to halt its removal.
To understand this topic, we must differentiate between hate and history. Supporters of these monuments argue that these statues represent our country’s past. It is important, however, to question what history the memorials represent. After observing part of a protest, it could become clear that the protests are not just about history and educating others. Surrounded by protesters was a KKK flag, while others held the traditional Confederate flag or altered versions of it. In a later protest, a woman was pictured wearing a shirt that read “secede.” Some supporters who were arrested carried concealed weapons, something that is not needed for peaceful protests.
Part of history and discussing it is teaching others our past mistakes and how not to make the same ones again. The argument that the monuments or flags are history and not hate is a moot point, as the history that they say the memorials represent is not contextualized. Someone needs to explain why these statues are so important and what exactly they are representing, if not hate. The Daughters of the Confederacy’s own website has no information on it regarding what their purpose is. Everything on the page is private and users must be invited to join. If someone is going to create a website to benefit their cause, they should be informative and explain how the memorials are important to our society and how we benefit from them. Without doing so, it makes it look like they have something to hide, which is not aiding in their advocacy.
What is not often spoken about by monument supporters is that many of the Confederate monuments were erected during the Jim Crow era. This era began in the late 19th century and continued up into the 1960s, but the Civil War ended in 1865, more than four decades before the monument was donated. There must be a reason why the monument was erected so many years on. Perhaps many Confederate monuments erected at this time were to act as scare tactics for minorities, primarily African Americans. If someone truly wanted to honor those who died, they would have done so sooner, which makes it seem that this was not the sole purpose of the monuments.
Understanding the difference between history and hate is essential. As a country, it is important to understand and allow ourselves to scrutinize America’s past. Without doing so, people will not be able to move forward or expand their tolerance. It is also important to question why protests are happening and, if someone is protesting, the reason why they are in the first place. The purpose of protests is to spread awareness on a topic and allow others to become educated. If someone is interested in protesting, they must be aware of what is being protested and what the message is that they’re trying to spread.
By Gabby Axner, Contributing Writer