Opposing sides meet at Confederate statue

Opposing sides meet at Confederate statue
January 17
04:00 2019

Chants of “Your Southern Soldiers were Enemy Combatants” and a rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic divided the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets last Sunday afternoon as more than 100 people gathered downtown to speak in support of or against the city’s decision to remove the statue which was placed at the old Forsyth County Courthouse in 1905.

Those opposed to the removal of the statue, which depicts a Confederate soldier holding a rifle, showed up downtown just after 12 p.m. Initially, Heirs of the Confederacy planned to hold a support rally at the former place where the Silent Sam statue stood on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill before it was toppled last year, then travel to Winston-Salem for a similar event.

In response to the scheduled meeting at the statue, a group called “Get Hate Out of Winston-Salem” scheduled to meet on the same day and time to show their support for the city’s decision to have the statue removed.

Freezing rain, sleet, and snow didn’t stop residents from traveling from near and far to make sure their voices were heard on Sunday, Jan. 13.

While taking a break from leading chants such as “Take it Down” and “Get Hate Out of Winston,” rally organizer Lillian Podlog said we must pay attention to what the statue represents.

“…Yes it is history but we must ask what that history is. That statue was put up in 1905 by a man who murdered black people and went on to become mayor of Wilmington.  That’s the history we’re talking about here,” said Podlog. “If you want to honor history let’s be clear on what that history is. It’s not about honoring a soldiers like they say.”

Those who want the monument to stay where it is argue that the statue and their support of the Confederacy have little to do with slavery and the oppression of black people. One of those men was Bill from Davie County. While standing near the statue with about 20-25 other men, Bill told The Chronicle that he studied the American Civil War for nearly 20 years and the city made the wrong decision.

“…I studied that time period for 18 years and the sad truth of it is there’s so much ignorance about what that war was about. It was not about slavery, it was about tariffs and money. It was a political war,” he said. “…The fussing at that time was mostly about tariffs. The Southern states wanted to be a free economy and they wanted to have free trade with the world.”

Aside from a few shouting matches, cold stares, and the occasional middle finger, both sides remained calm during the encounter. More than a dozen officers with the Winston-Salem Police Department were on hand to ensure everyone was safe.

Despite the efforts of the Heirs to the Confederacy and others who are against the statue being removed, after receiving a letter from the City of Winston-Salem and Winston Courthouse LLC, for owners of the property where the statue currently stands, it’s just a matter of time before the statue is removed.

The letter to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, owners of the statue, reads; “Owner’s primary responsibility is to the residents of the Property who have a right to enjoy a quality living space without being subjected to disturbances of any kind. Unfortunately, the recent controversy, press reports, and references to potential violence, have raised serious concerns for some of the residents.

“Therefore in order to protect the residents and the Property, the owner cannot allow the Statue to remain on the Property.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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