Welcome to the Department of History
The History Department at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is committed to evidence-based analysis of some of the most significant issues in our human past, from antiquity to the near-contemporary and across the globe. Our full-time professors, adjunct and visiting faculty members, and impressive graduate and undergraduate students form a vibrant and collegial intellectual community. History alumni succeed in a broad range of fields and change the world for the better.
The History Department’s Statement on the Confederate Memorial at UNC (aka “Silent Sam” Statue)
The statement below was adopted by UNC’s History Department in October 2017. Nearly a year later, on August 20, 2018, the statue known as Silent Sam was removed from its pedestal in McCorkle Place. We reiterate our concern about the safety of our community and affirm our belief that the statue should not be returned to its former location on this campus. We continue to share the earlier departmental statement and related additional links because they reflect our moral and intellectual engagement with the issues represented by Silent Sam.
The faculty of the Department of History urges the officers of UNC and other state officials to pursue every avenue to remove the “Silent Sam” monument. For more than a century it has stood in the most conspicuous public space on our campus. Then and now, the location of the monument speaks to the intent of its creators to ensure that the heritage they commemorated would have pride of place at the front door of the state’s flagship university. While they shared a veneration of slavery, the “Old South,” the Confederacy, and the ideology of white supremacy, many of their contemporaries in North Carolina and elsewhere did not. From its inception, the monument was exclusionary and offered a highly selective interpretation of the nation’s history. In the twenty-first century that interpretation is so incompatible with the principles we faculty and this university strive to uphold that the continued presence of the monument in its current location is a threat to the safety of the people of our university and a daily affront.
Moved to an appropriate place, the “Silent Sam’ monument can become a useful historical artifact with which to teach the history of the university and its still incomplete mission to be “the People’s University.” Until then, the monument will continue to promote malicious values that have persisted too long on this campus, in this state, and in this nation. Please read more about our statement here.