Remnants of a contentious Confederate monument that stood on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for more than 100 years were removed Tuesday, but the controversy over "Silent Sam" was far from over.
The statue itself, constructed in 1913 in homage to "the sons of the university who entered the war of 1861-65 in answer to the call of their country," was toppled in August by protesting students. A pedestal and plaque remained in place and the statue in storage while school officials debated the memorial's fate.
School Chancellor Carol Folt on Monday ordered the removal of the pedestal and announced her resignation, effective at the end of the academic year.
"Overnight, workers removed the base and tablets from the Confederate Monument site," Folt said hours later on Twitter. "I am confident this is the right decision for our community – one that will promote public safety, enable us to begin the healing process and renew our focus on our great mission."
Silent Sam Memorial on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Photo: Photo courtesy of The History Tourist)
The statue has been a divisive issue for the 30,000-student campus, with both sides conducting sometimes angry protests at the site. Last month, the board of governors rejected a $5.3 million proposal to build a new home for the statue, citing public safety concerns and the use of state funds for the project. But the board promised to review options and come up with another plan.
Folt's decision to remove the pedestal drew fire from the board's chairman, Harry Smith.
"We are incredibly disappointed at this intentional action," Smith said in a statement. "It lacks transparency and it undermines and insults the board’s goal to operate with class and dignity."