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Sam protestors should light candle


Thursday, September 6, 2018

I sympathize with the feelings of those who took part in bringing down the statue of a Confederate soldier known as “Silent Sam” on the Chapel Hill campus. But this is hardly the way to express those feelings. What was accomplished was wanton vandalism and destruction of public property which is a crime (as well as desecration of a memorial site), not an act of free speech and freedom of assembly.

How might these supposedly well meaning folks find a way to do something positive and constructive rather than negative and destructive? How about “light a candle, rather than curse the darkness?”

Why not erect monuments rather than destroy them (and do the research, raise the money, etc., necessary), for example, to honor the work of blacks, in many cases black slaves, who often built the roads, bridges, railroads, dug the canals to drain marshes to create farmland, and all the other “heavy lifting” required to build America and make it great?

Or erect monuments to honor more North Carolina blacks, such as the founders and early faculty of St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh (a few miles from where “Silent Sam” used to stand). The college, originally St. Augustine’s Normal School, was initially opened in 1867 as a school for former slaves. How about a statue of Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, an outstanding educator, writer, and scholar from the school, an inspiration to anyone, black or white?

Or you don’t have to build monuments to create a positive legacy. There are dozens of ways to volunteer to help disadvantaged children, be they black or otherwise. To mentor them, to give tutoring help, and offer a hand up in so many ways.

It requires your time, and dedication and patience, and probably isn’t as big an adrenaline rush as a boisterous demonstration and tearing down a statue, but it does more to move America into a positive future.

Ernest Marshall



Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


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