The resurgent effort to take down remaining monuments emerges in places like Rocky Mount, Asheville and Raleigh.
Amid the protests sweeping North Carolina in the wake of George Floyd’s death, there has been a renewed call for the removal of the 109 remaining Confederate monuments across the state.
Leaders voted last week in the eastern North Carolina city of Rocky Mount to remove a Confederate statue during renovations to a city park.
The state capital in Raleigh has seen bolstered efforts to remove or relocate monuments, while Asheville has initiated a process to take down its memorials to Confederate soldiers.
And on Tuesday night, the Asheville City Council unanimously voted to establish a task force dedicated to removing and repurposing monuments at the county courthouse and in the city’s Pack Square Park, The Associated Press reported.
The memorials include a 50-foot obelisk honoring Confederate army officer and former North Carolina Gov. Zebulon Vance, as well as markers to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Col. John Connally, and a smaller obelisk paying tribute to North Carolina’s 60th Confederate Regiment.
“We’re standing in front of a Confederate monument that says ‘To our Confederate dead,’” 17-year-old Ny Williams told the Raleigh News & Observer June 4. “We have nothing to memorialize … the black victims of North Carolina.”
Funding for a monument to Black North Carolinians on the state Capitol grounds in Raleigh was added to the state’s 2019 budget, but the money has never materialized.
Williams was at the base of a 75-foot column topped by a Confederate soldier, which was dedicated in 1895. Now festooned with spray-painted graffiti saying, “Take It Down” and “George Floyd,” it is one of ten monuments on the capitol grounds dedicated to slaveholders and Confederates, including former Gov. Vance, white supremacist former state senator and Gov. Charles Aycock, Confederate soldier Samuel Ashe, and slave-owning presidents George Washington, James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson.
On Tuesday, a group of 25 protestors, led by a man wearing a Civil War Union Army uniform also called for removal of the column.
Removal and repurposing of the monuments is hampered by a 2015 state law passed by the Republican-led General Assembly and signed by former Gov. Pat McCrory. With few exceptions, the law prohibits the permanent removal of an “object of remembrance located on public property.”