#HistoryMatters: A roundup of UNC Press authors on the Silent Sam monument controversy

From our offices on the edge of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, UNC Press staff have had an especially close vantage point to observe the events and debates surrounding the fall of the university’s Confederate monument, known as “Silent Sam.” It’s no surprise that a number of Press authors have written and spoken in many prominent locations as the wider public seeks to understand what’s happening on our campus and what it means for our collective engagement with the past and its legacies. We are proud to publish scholars who regularly bring their research and knowledge to bear in a way that can illuminate moments such as this, and we look forward to playing our part as dialogue continues.

Here’s a sample of recent pieces by Press authors on troubled history of Silent Sam’s initial placement, the long controversy over its ongoing position on campus, the activism that called for change and ultimately toppled the monument off its pedestal, and the debates over how the university and the community should respond. These authors’ books offer deeper engagement on many of these issues for those who want to read more, so links are provided below.

Blain Roberts, author of Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women: Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South, co-wrote an opinion article in The New York Times with Ethan J. Kytle titled “The ‘Silent Sam’ Confederate Monument at UNC Was Toppled. What Happens Next?”

Joseph T. Glatthaar, author of Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee, wrote an op-ed in The Daily Tar Heel titled “Silent Sam from a historian’s perspective.”

James L. Leloudis, co-author of To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America, wrote an op-ed in The News & Observer titled “Silent Sam was a symbol of mob violence itself.”

Eric Muller, author of American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II and editor of Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II, wrote an opinion piece in The News & Observer titled “No, the law doesn’t require Silent Sam to be returned to his pedestal in 90 days.”

Fitzhugh Brundage, editor of Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930, was interviewed not long after the statue fell in an NPR segment titled “Protesters Knock Down Confederate Status on UNC Campus.” He was also interviewed for an article in The Charlotte Observer titled “The unfinished story of Silent Sam, from ‘Soldier Boy’ to fallen symbol of a painful past.”

UNC Press’s close friends and partners at the Center for the Study of the American South published a statement on the toppling of the statue titled “On Silent Sam and the Study of the South.”

#SilentSam; #ReadUP


Pageants, Parlors, & Pretty WomenSoldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia by Joseph T. GlatthaarTo Right These Wrongs

American InquisitionBeyond Blackface

For a fuller listing of UNC Press books on history and memory, visit our website.