With protests again expected Saturday in Pittsboro over the removal – or existence – of the Confederate monument downtown, we thought it important to give context to the issue with some history from the former mayor of the town, Randy Voller, with a video.
Voller, who also runs the Chatham County Line, knows the arguments for removing it. For some, it’s a symbol of the slavery that so scarred North Carolina and much of the South and country, and the racism that still shows itself today through white-power movements.
The pro-statue side would say it has nothing to do with race or slavery because the Civil War was more about taxation, states rights and the agricultural economy. The monument’s place is there, they say, at the foot of the historic courthouse in Pittsboro.
Because, from their view, the statue is an important memorial to the war dead who served the Confederacy, and who are the ancestors of many current residents.
Voller says understanding the pattern of history goes a long way in understanding both sides of the issue.
At one point, Voller said, there were more slaves in Pittsboro than people that live there now. Little embeds of history like this create a fabric that explains why modern issues of racism are so divided.
Voller, the current publisher of the Chatham County Line, said examining history reveals that the statue debate isn’t just about honoring veterans or racist symbolism; because the meanings are mixed, the decisions don’t fall easily on one side or another.
Still, tensions have been high, with arrests and scuffles at the most recent protest in downtown Pittsboro, one of several that have drawn county residents and out-of-towners from both sides.
And neither is budging, with both sides sending out invites to opponents of the statue and pro-Confederate sympathizers to fill the small downtown Saturday and show their support for their cause.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the League of the South has called for reinforcements on Saturday from Confederate and white-power groups who see the real hate groups as those, including Antifa supporters, who show disgust toward neo-Confederates and their history.
Meanwhile, those demonstrating against the statue have sent out invitations for Saturday.
They are calling on people to denounce the hate they see in the league and in like-minded organizations with a meal and peaceful protest. They will stand against what their side sees as a shameful history in their county and decry the seeming resurgence of white supremacist organizations in the United States.
We’ll keep you posted. But in the meantime, please give reporter and videographer Charlotte Ririe’s short video a watch.