Statues and Symbols in the Wake of Charlottesville

Statues and Symbols in the Wake of Charlottesville


Good afternoon. Good afternoon. My name is Guy Charles. It’s my pleasure this afternoon to welcome
you to the program that is put on by the program in public law after Charlottesville, Statues
and Symbols in American Law and Society. Before briefly introducing our panelists,
what I’d like to do– it is our dean’s birthday today. We are obligated– Happy Birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear David. Happy birthday to you. It is also his last year as dean, and we are
extremely, extremely sad. But in any event, I know that you will remember
us fondly. All right, so now to turn to this program,
my colleague Neil Siegel, who’s one of the co-directors along with Professor Chris Schroeder,
have put on this. Neil had this idea to put on this program,
and we’re excited to participate. I will briefly introduce each of the four
panelists. They will talk for 7 to 10 minutes, give or
take a couple. And then afterwards, there it might be, depending
on the time, a short period of interaction. But then we’ll invite your participation. I’m not going to say much about each of them. They’re all each distinguished individuals. So I will just tell you who they are and the
order they will be speaking. First we’ll have Professor Trina Jones, who’s
a wonderful scholar on race and socioeconomic status and inequality, has written over a
variety of issues, including color differentiation in same race individuals on the basis of skin
color. She will be our first speaker. Then we’ll have Professor Thavolia Glymph,
who’s a professor of history and African, African-American studies here at Duke. She will also be our John Hope Franklin visiting
professor this spring. And so she will follow and be next. Then we’ll have Professor Jeff Powell, who
is a professor of constitutional law who served as deputy assistant attorney general in the
Office of Legal Counsel who’s done a number of different things and, of course, is a wonderful
colleague here on this faculty. And the last but obviously not least, Professor
Neil Siegel, professor of law and political science, co-director, as I mentioned, of the
Program in Public Law, also teaches constitutional law. Each of these great individuals will share
their thoughts with you on this program, and it is my distinctive honor to be the moderator
of this panel with this group of luminaries. So first, Professor Trina Jones. Thank you, Guy. So good afternoon. It is wonderful to be with you today. Please note that I’m not speaking on behalf
of Duke University, Duke Law School, or even in my role as a professor here. I’m speaking as a black female citizen of
this country, one who is honestly struggling in this moment. Today I offer personal reflections on what
it feels like to face symbols of white supremacy and on activism. I should warn you in advance that some of
the imagery in the PowerPoint presentation is disturbing, and therefore, you might choose
to not look. So I grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina. When I was a child, Rock Hill was a town of
about 40,000 people. There were two high schools. The local industry was based on textile manufacturing. It was a mill town comprised mostly of blue
collar workers. The population was about 40% black and 60%
white. There were very few Asians, Latinos, or indigenous
Americans. When I was about five or six years old, the
Klan marched down Main Street. I don’t recall the exact imagery, but what
I do remember is the agitation and worry the event wrought among the older members of my
family, the people I turned to for protection. There was a sense of vulnerability, of intimidation,
of threat, that permeated the family and that filtered down to me. There was very little that my elders could
do because they were black and they were poor. And for the people who had lived through the
ravages of Jim Crow, they knew what the message was that the Klan was sending. You’re not wanted here. Nigger, stay in your place, or else. And you may choose to look away. On August 1, 2015, less than two months after
the white supremacist Dylann Roof gunned down nine worshippers at the Emanuel AME Church
in Charleston, South Carolina, I returned to Rock Hill to visit my sister. As I headed down Highway 161 to my sister’s
home, a white guy in a pickup truck rolled up behind me at a red light. I gasped as I saw the huge Confederate flag
swaying off the bed of his truck. For a moment, all the fear and anxiety in
five-year-old me resurfaced. I thought to myself, who is this person? What hate must infect his soul that he would
so proudly and rebelliously display such a divisive symbol, a symbol that for so many
of us clearly stands for racial hatred? And how many other people like him are out
there, lurking in the shadows? And I think we’ve learned that quite a few
are, it seems. – You will not replace us. You will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Blood and soil. Blood and soil. Blood and soil. Blood and soil. Blood and soil. Blood and soil. – So what do you hope to get out today? Like, what does it mean to you? – Well, for one thing, it means that we’re
showing to this parasitic class of anti-white vermin that this is our country. This country was built by our forefathers
and sustained by us. It’s going to remain our country. track of your fucking guns, huh? So this is what the most blatant form of white
supremacy looks like. This is what it sounds like, and I’ve been
discussing what it feels like, at least to me. And it’s not just out there. It is here. It is ugly. It’s personal. It’s directed. For African Americans, for immigrant citizens
and undocumented humans, for Muslims, for members of the LGBTQ community, for Jews,
what we see and what we hear are not only words or mere images. These words, these images, are a brutal assault
to our dignity, to our safety, to our humanity. That is why when rumors of the KKK marching
in downtown Durham surfaced about two weeks ago, I was determined to go join the counter-protesters. Some of my colleagues said, it’s too dangerous,
that there was a threat of violence, that to counter-protest would only bring heightened
visibility to neo-Nazis and the Klan, that we should do as the SPLC suggests and organize
a counter-protest at a different time. Perhaps some felt that taking to the streets
was anti-intellectual and militant. I heard all of these arguments, but I nonetheless
determined to go, because for me, the violence was in allowing white supremacists to march
unimpeded down Main Street. Five-year-old me was powerless to do anything
in Rock Hill, but middle-aged, middle class me could do something on August the 18th in
Durham. I could join with my fellow community members
and say, not here, not now, not on my watch. In Durham, North Carolina in 2017, white supremacists
will not parade unchallenged. In a society where racial violence, hate speech,
and monuments to hate are ubiquitous, I do not feel safe. My family members do not feel safe. Members of marginalized communities across
this country do not feel safe, and we haven’t felt safe for some time now. We do not have the luxury to walk away, to
yield to evil, to protest only when it’s safe and convenient to do so. We know that we or a family member could be
killed, deported, or molested at any moment on any day. We understand that to do nothing in the violence
of the moment allows for future violence in our institutions. Indeed, I fear that our silence last fall–
and Facebook and Twitter posts to your friends don’t count– in the face of misogyny, xenophobia,
religious intolerance, and racial bigotry allowed these ideas to become more normalized
and to infiltrate and flourish in the most powerful corridors of our government. You may say, but what about preserving history? And what about free speech and the legal process? I would suggest to you that monuments to hate
in public spaces have much more to do with who and what we choose to remember than they
do with preserving history. And with regards to free speech and the legal
process, let me just say when activists toppled the Statue of a Confederate soldier in front
of the old Durham county courthouse, a colleague wrote the following to me. Quote, “My son has asked me to call the DA’s
office to ask that the charges against the Durham folks who pulled down the Confederate
statue be dropped. I’m sympathetic, but then wondered whether
that would mean that white supremacists who topple a statue of MLK should be accorded
the same treatment. If not, then how would such treatment of the
Confederate topplers be consistent with the First Amendment? Curious as to your thoughts,” end quote. My response, which took about two seconds,
was quote, “I really don’t care about the First Amendment doctrine right now. This is about basic moral principles. There is no equivalency between those seeking
to abolish white supremacy and those seeking to promote it.” Similarly, when a high-level Duke University
administrator wrote that rather than use civil disobedience, we should rely upon, quote,
“legitimate, law-abiding processes, how ever long they take,” end quote, I angrily wrote
to a friend, “What law does he have faith in? The law that permits the killers of black
men to walk free? The law that sanctions the gerrymandering
of our political process? The law that allows affronts to human dignity
at our borders? The law that tolerates unequal representation
in institutions of higher learning?” The line, “however long it takes,” in particular,
made my blood boil. As Catharine MacKinnon observed over 25 years
ago in “Only Words,” “A request for patience in the face of injustice, a request that we
wait and let the process work, means that you do not really believe that we are injured.” The phrase “however long it takes” also reminded
me of Dr. King’s letter from a Birmingham jail, where he responded to arguments that
the protesters should negotiate, use regular processes and perhaps wait for new political
leadership. Dr. King said, “I guess it’s easy for those
who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say ‘wait.’ But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch
your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim, when you
have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers
and sisters with impunity, when you see the vast majority of your 20 million negro brothers
smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society, when
you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a negro living constantly
at tiptoe stance, never knowing what to expect next and plagued with inner fears and outer
resentments, when you’re forever fighting a degenerating sense of nobodyness, then you
will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” For people living on the margins, for those
of us who feel the fierce urgency of now, there is no safe haven. There is no space to rest. We cannot wait. To be sure, this is law school, so we must
talk about the law and the First Amendment. And many will do so here today. But instead of asking whether and how racism
can be eliminated while maintaining the integrity of other interests implicated in the status
quo, I hope that we can instead ask how these traditional interests and values serve as
mechanisms of racial oppression. And we must not only focus solely on symbols
and monuments, but we must turn a critical gaze on the ways in which white supremacy
and white hegemony are incorporated in societal institutions and structures– residential
segregation, unequal educational resources, wealth and income gaps, admissions policies,
discriminatory hiring and promotion practices, mass incarceration, inadequate access to health
care. Let me conclude with two thoughts. First, each of us has to figure out how we
will respond in this moment. If you choose to engage in counter-protest
activity — and I am not saying that you should — but if you do, you must be prepared
and you must know the risk. Keep in mind that the risks have always been
high. Lest we engage in revisionist history or glamorize
the protests of the 1960s, we must remember that those activists, including Fannie Lou,
Medgar, Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner, those activists risked everything. They were threatened, beat down, and some
were killed. The risks are equally high if not higher today,
as we are in an open-carry state and faced with a militia that is armed and that craves
violence. You must know the risk and decide for yourself
what risks are worth taking. Second, in a moment of moral crisis, which
I believe we are in, we cannot hide behind the law, process, or abstract theory. Abstract analyses are the privilege and the
province of elites. If we had a crit on this faculty — and Jed
comes pretty close, I would recommend that you all read his latest essay, “Laundered
Violence” — but if we had a crit in this faculty, she would teach you that law, process,
and theory are limited by the forces that shape that law, those processes, and those
theories. In other words, they are biased in favor of
the elites and against those who have limited voice and limited access to justice. So I implore you, as we move forward in what
I hope will be a series of robust conversations throughout the fall and into future years,
to keep your analyses grounded in reality. Remember the subjective nature of perspective
and the privileged space from which you choose to act or not. More importantly, remember as my deceased
colleague and friend Jerome Culp used to say, law is ultimately about real people. If that law cannot protect the most vulnerable
people in our society, then why are we here? And more importantly, what can we and what
can you do about it? Thank you. Thank you, Professor Jones. Professor Glymph. Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be here. And I left my paper in the car, so I will
be reading from my computer. Luckily, I have that. Like Trina, I am a descendant — well, I
don’t know if you were a descendent. But I am from South Carolina. I am also a descendant of slaves. And because I am and because I grew up in
the South, I have a long history with monuments, of walking the ground saturated with monuments,
streets and schools named for Confederate soldiers, politicians, slaveholders. I grew up in a place where voter suppression
was legal, but I also grew up in a place where “resist” was part of the common vocabulary
in my home and in my community. The massacre of nine black parishioners, six
women and three children, at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston
in June of 2015 served as a long overdue wake-up call to the problem, not only of violence,
physical violence against African Americans, but also the violence of monuments, the violence
of statues named for Confederate soldiers and generals and politicians. And it also served as a sort of wake-up call
asking us what we would do, not only about Charleston but about the nation. Established in the second decade of the 19th
century, Mother Emanuel is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church south of Baltimore. Mother Emanuel has always stood in opposition
to discrimination and opposition to the South’s determination to deny black people freedom
and citizenship even after the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. And the aftermath of the rumored 1822 Denmark
Vesey rebellion, a mob of white people burned down Mother Emanuel. Black people rebuilt it after the Civil War. Following the massacre, South Carolina lowered
the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds. Americans all over the country celebrated. They celebrated even though the flag did not
go away, even though it was not removed from a public space, just lowered. But a new momentum was building both for and
against the removal of Confederate symbols and statues from public spaces that was recharged
in the aftermath of the tragedy in Charleston and the death of Heather Heyer. Across the nation, we are debating the question
of who we are, of who belongs to the nation state and what that means. The issue resurfaced, of course, at our own
institution, as more people took note of the fact that two of the statutes that grace the
portals at Duke Chapel were of pro-slavery Confederate soldiers, one a leading general. President Price moved swiftly to remove the
statue of Robert E. Lee, though the statue of Sidney Lanier, a Confederate soldier, remains,
but that’s a problem for another day. Lee’s statue will become part of our archives,
and that seems appropriate to me. The presence of his statue on our campus,
which was placed here without much comment or even, one could say, active support or
consent, seems symptomatic of the times in which it was raised on this campus, a time
when black people were politically disempowered and expected to live in a world that, through
its symbols, its unequal educational system, and general discrimination, was determined
that they know their place. Colleges and universities were not and are
not exempt. In 2003, Ruth Simmons, the president of Brown,
established a steering committee on slavery and justice, which delivered a stinging report
three years later. Harvard, Emory, Georgetown, Princeton, Dartmouth,
Rutgers, and the College of William and Mary have followed suit, and many other institutions. This past spring, another Duke Endowment institution,
Furman, established a task force in slavery and justice. Drew Faust of Harvard has stated bluntly that
Harvard was directly complicit in slavery. One of the projects that I am working on now
is on the history of Duke and slavery. Like some institutions, Duke can claim that,
well, we were established after the war. But we were a part of Trinity, and Trinity
had slaves. Its president in 1860 had three slaves in
his household. So my students and I are working on this. Defenders of the display of the Confederate
battle flag — which one person recently said, “it’s just a piece of cloth” — and
monuments argue that their heritage is at stake. The opposition, that this heritage is a heritage
of which no one should be proud. The Confederacy was founded in a bid to establish
a modern pro-slavery nation state. This charge was stated explicitly in the ordinances
of secession. And in the defense of slavery– that was a
key part of the South’s military objectives. So why are we still fighting the Civil War? Why were monuments erected in the first place,
and what work do they continue to do? And there’s been a lot of debate and writing
about this recently, and so I won’t go into that right now. But I would like to say a few more words that
I think don’t get as much attention. After the Civil War, the nation condemned
the slave South. That condemnation was expressed in the 13th
Amendment, and the 14th Amendment, and the 15th Amendment, and the Civil Rights Act of
1866, and congressional anti-Klan legislation, and more. But there was never any overall condemnation
of slavery as evil, or as an atrocity, or as wreaking a humanitarian crisis, one that
we saw during slavery, during the war, and after. The war-time destruction of black life, the
massacres that came after in places like Memphis and New Orleans, on the side of the roads
in the South and in the homes of black people, the rise of Jim Crow, the reunion movements,
the Supreme Court decisions that wiped out the progress that had been made, constitutional
conventions like the 1890 Mississippi Constitutional Convention that wiped out the voting rights
of tens of thousands of black men — and the same was true in Louisiana and other states
— all these things are critical to understanding where we are now. The problem with Confederate statues is also
different from the problem of commemorations of British kings and royal families that also
dot our landscape in the naming of towns and cities and roads, and even universities–
Georgetown, South Carolina; Georgetown University; North and South Carolina. Though these things may be different from
what we are looking at now, they’re not different, we should remember, from the use of tribal
names of indigenous people as mascots and as names of states– Illinois, Mississippi,
Alabama, and so forth. What we are facing now is also different from
what Germany faced after World War II. Following that war, the German people did
not establish monuments to Hitler. The world condemned Nazi Germany; the murder
of Jews, gypsies, gay people, and others; the treatment of the mentally ill. All was condemned as evil, and the world pledged
never to let it happen again. That did not happen in this country. But what we can look forward to, among other
things, is that,at least for me, I’m very happy that a monument will go up in Charleston
designed by an Israeli American, Michael Arad, that will commemorate not just the ground
on which nine people lost their lives, but commemorate the resistance of African Americans
over the course of nearly 400 years. Thank you. Thank you, Professor Glymph. Professor Powell. Thank you, Guy. It’s an honor to be part of this conversation. I want to talk about history. I want to present you four propositions that
I believe to be actually beyond any serious contravention and that I think may be part
of the context in which we need to think about Charlottesville. Let me give them to you first in bullet form,
and then I will tell you just a little bit about why I think they’re true. Well, I can’t prove it in the time allowed. First, there was no consensus in 1861 about
the meaning of secession, not in the country as a whole, and not among white Southerners. Second, there were proponents of a view of
the US Constitution that created a strong national government, Hamilton, Marshall, and
there were proponents of the Jeffersonian vision of a very weak federal government and
a loose confederacy. There were proponents of both positions on
both sides of the Union-Confederate line. Third, there was, in fact, no controversy
about the avowed instigation for and purpose of secession. It was to protect slavery. Fourth, the post-Civil War use of some Confederate
symbolism correlates very strongly with periods of heightened racial conflict and tension. Now let me say just a little bit about each
of these propositions. First, no consensus on the meaning of secession. Everyone in 1861 agreed that white Southerners,
like everybody else, including black Southerners, had the revolutionary right, as President
Lincoln called it, to dismember or overthrow their government. But this revolutionary right was a moral or
political right, not a legal right. Revolutionaries are rebels and traitors against
the government they seek to overthrow. From this perspective, secession is revolution. The Lincoln administration was perfectly entitled
lawfully to attempt to suppress secession by military force. The second position was the diametrical opposite. Secession is the exercise of a constitutional
right. The original states entered into the constitutional
compact by free and independent decision, and all existing states could exit in the
same manner. The third position, held by some white Southerners
including the Confederacy’s president, Jefferson Davis, split the difference. Davis agreed the right that we are exercising
in 1861 is the moral right exercised in 1776, to overthrow our government and replace it
with one that we find more congenial. Davis disagreed, found a difference between
1776 and 1861, because he said in 1776, the American patriots were traitors to their sovereign. In 1861, the secessionists are following their
sovereign, the individual state. All right, my second proposition was there
are Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians on both sides of the Confederate-Union divide. I’ll give you two examples. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, in
his first inaugural address, said of the Confederate constitution that it is the Constitution formed
by our forefathers. It’s the US Constitution. And its true meaning is revealed in the judicial
constructions that have been made of the US Constitution. What cases did he have in mind? Davis’ words and deeds, before and after,
answer that plainly– McCulloch against Maryland, Gibbons against Ogden, Ableman against Booth,
and yes, Dred Scott. Davis was a principled adherent to the view
that the Constitution of the United States and of the Confederate States creates a powerful
if, in some respects, limited federal government. Go to the other side. Let’s look at Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of
the Treasury under Lincoln, Lincoln’s appointee to the position of Chief Justice of United
States. Chase hated slavery, and he thought that the
United States government was entitled to take certain unusual measures in the emergency
of the early Civil War. But he was, as a young man, a Jeffersonian
Democrat, and he remained a Jeffersonian in his thinking throughout. If you go through Chase’s opinions as chief
justice and his votes as chief justice, you will see someone who, with the exception of
the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, which, after all, had become part of the Constitution
— with that exception, Chase remains a principled adherent to the Jeffersonian limited government
vision. period that had a regional cast to them? Of course. South Carolina had nearly come to blows with
Andrew Jackson 30 years earlier over Congress’ enactment of a protective tariff. Go read the South Carolina declaration of
the causes of secession adopted by the convention there in 1860, December– not a word about
tariffs; not a word about any other constitutional or legal debate; many, many, many words about
constitutional and legal issues involving slavery. Whereas the Mississippi Secession Convention
would say, about three weeks later, about secession, “Our position is thoroughly identified
with the institution of slavery.” My fourth proposition had to deal with the
post-Civil War use of Republican symbols. That’s a fascinating and complicated story,
but there is one theme that emerges very clearly if you read the complicated story carefully. One thing’s quite clear. The creation of permanent Confederate symbols,
monuments, other kinds of memorials, place names, building names, the creation of such
permanent symbols correlates very strongly with rises in racial tension. If you look at the record, the creation of
such permanent symbols spikes three times. It spikes in the 1890s, the decade of Jim
Crow and disenfranchisement of African American men. It spikes in the period from roughly 1915
to roughly 1935. 1915 is the year that the KKK is reinvented
as a nationwide, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, nativist organization. And the third period in which there’s a spike
in the creation of permanent Confederate symbolism is, of course, the late 1940s to the late
1960s, the period of the modern civil rights movement and of the struggle over desegregation. I do not claim to you that any of these or
all of these propositions of fact answer the questions in themselves of what we should
do as a community about existing Confederate symbols today. I do suggest to you that they are part of
the context in which we have to think about what we should do in 2017, and that in doing
that thinking, we ought to get our history right. Thank you. Thank you, Professor Powell. Neil Siegel. Well, thank you, Guy. I want to begin by thanking the dean for his
support and our holding this event, and my gratitude to Guy and Trina and Thavolia and
Jeff for your participation in it. We may be in for a difficult year. There may be more Charlottesvilles. There may be events that are far worse than
Charlottesville. And so I hope when events do arise that we
will be able, as a community, to face them, and to face them responsibly together. And for the students in the audience, I would
encourage you to take ownership of this community and not just wait for the faculty or the administration
to respond, whether acting individually or through the organizations you’re a part of. Reach out to faculty you know or want to know
if you think there are events and conversations that we should be having that we haven’t. All right, well, we’ve already seen, from
some of the other presenters today, how the tools of historians can be quite useful in
contextualizing debates about the meaning and significance of various statues and monuments
and memorials. And what I want to begin by suggesting is
that the tools you’re learning in law school are quite relevant as well. Lawyers have both technical analytical tools
that they can bring to bear, as well as more theoretical historical tools. So take, for example, the claim that these
Confederate monuments are about our history and culture. That’s the stated end or objective that is
being claimed as being served by preserving these monuments. And if you do the kind of means-end analysis
you learn in the basic course in constitutional law, you might ask about the relationship
between the means and the stated end. Part of what this analysis can accomplish
is to smoke out illegitimate or impermissible purposes. If there’s a lack of a good, tight fit between
the means and the ends, then perhaps the actual purpose is different than the stated purpose. And when you do this with respect to Confederate
monuments and the stated objective of preserving our history and culture, what you learn is
that there’s actually quite a bit of underinclusiveness. There’s all manner of American history and
culture that are not well represented in these Confederate monuments, and that will cause
good lawyers to start asking questions about, well, who put them there? When were they put there? Who opposed them? Who was not permitted to oppose them? And this might result in a reassessment or
a critical assessment of what the actual objectives were and are today. And in fact, as I’ll suggest in a few minutes,
there’s actually an overinclusiveness problem as well, because much more often than not,
these monuments were not contemporaneous celebrations of history and culture, as Jeff has pointed
out. They came after the fact in the service of
other objectives that very few people would publicly be prepared to support today. What about theoretical historical tools? Well, something else you learn in constitutional
law and related classes is that when you think about questions of equality or equal citizenship,
you’re also talking about status hierarchies, whether racial hierarchies, gender hierarchies,
hierarchies with respect to sexual orientation or gender identity, how are status hierarchies
maintained? And they are maintained through the exercise
of power, public and private power, including not just in material ways, although the material
consequences and harms can be unspeakably severe, but also through the dissemination
of social meanings, the dissemination of social meanings, which I think is a lot of what monuments
and memorials accomplish. And so I think we should ask ourselves, what
is the dominant social meaning of Confederate monuments? A virtue of the public controversy over them
in recent weeks is that it has made their histories popular. Now, everyone knows or at least should know
when and, therefore, why the monuments were first raised. And as I’ve already mentioned, what the record
reveals is much more often than not, they’re not contemporaneous Confederate celebrations
of history and culture. In historical context, whether these memorials
were of Lee or Stonewall or of an anonymous Confederate soldier, they were always and
emphatically monuments to Jim Crow. Our own Walter Dellinger reminded me of a
good example yesterday, and this is of the Silent Sam monument at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill a few miles from here. What was said at the unveiling of that Confederate
monument on June 2 of 1913? Well, the industrialist and philanthropist
Julian S. Carr spoke at that dedication and, in speaking, offered a tribute to what he
called the Christian Anglo-Saxon race. And the whole address is available at UNC
Library, but I just want to read one tiny portion of it. And it is difficult to hear, but I do think
it’s important to share it with you. And this is what he had to say. “I trust I may be pardoned for one allusion,
howbeit it is rather personal. 100 yards from where we stand, less than 90
days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horsewhipped a negro wench until her skirts
hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village, she had publicly insulted
and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings
where was stationed a garrison of 100 federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate
presence of the entire garrison, and for 30 nights afterwards slept with a double-barrel
shotgun under my head.” So it’s not just what he did and how he regarded
what he did, and then what he thought in retrospect, and then what he uttered reflecting what he
thought, but the utter sense of comfort and entitlement to utter these words publicly
at the very moment this monument is being unveiled. We should continue, I think, to debate whether,
when, and how Confederate monuments should come down. I regard that actually as a complex question. But I think even more important than that
debate is for Americans to continue to think and rethink what it means to reject racism
and what it means to do so in very practical terms. One reason racism from a century ago matters
so much today is because racism continues to matter so much today. To be sure, the Confederate so-called heroes
are a special case because they were not simply racist, they were also anti-American. We are, after all, talking about the most
serious attempt to destroy the republic in our nation’s history. But it’s also the case — and I take no pleasure
in saying it — but it’s also the case that many patriotic Americans have long exhibited
profound racism. And that is true no matter how uncomfortable
or irritating it is for many white Americans to be reminded of this fact. The presence today of neo-Nazis, the Klan,
other white supremacists who are emerging to defend Confederate monuments, I think it
clarifies not only what these monuments mean today, but also how much work remains to be
done to counteract racism. To remove statues, or to think more creatively,
to supplement them with plaques that visibly make clear in large letters who put them there,
when and why is one symbolic step. But that step will ultimately prove a hollow
one unless and until Americans struggle much harder and are prepared to make sacrifices,
both materially and expressively, in order to make modern American society itself a monument
to racial equality and justice. All right, we have a few minutes. So let’s use the remaining time to take some
questions. I think what we might do is take them two
or three at a time. So that way, we can at least try to maximize
the time that we have left before we send you all away. So questions for our panelists, let’s take
two or three of them at a time. Yes. [INAUDIBLE]. Sydney. instead of how, and when, and what we do with
them after all. OK, let’s take a couple more. Thank you. Yes. OK, if there’s one more– all right, let’s
start with those two. Anybody? Yeah, I’m certainly open to Sydney’s position. And if the overwhelming majority of African
Americans in this country or the strong majority of African Americans think that’s what should
happen, then I think that should be taken extraordinarily seriously in light of what
should happen. I also think we should resist, at least in
thinking collectively, the urge to simply conclude that’s the right answer in all cases. You might actually educate people more if
they walked past that Silent Sam statue and saw this address. You can simply take it away. And again, if the image of it is so painful
to fellow members of the community who I really care about, that may be the answer. But I also think there’s a loss. I’d like to educate people about why it’s
there, what was actually said when it was put up there. And that could also serve, I think, an anti-racist
educational function. So I’m not suggesting that I know the answer
about what should happen, but I do think we should think about it and not simply assume
that there’s only one possible conclusion or that it’s the same conclusion in all circumstances
regardless of what kind of monument we’re talking about. The two questions nicely fit together because
my own view is that the answer to Jeremy’s is that we are not going to find consensus
anytime in the near future. We’re going to have to live with disagreement. My own way of stating my objective would be
to say I’d like to find the maximum way to have people understand and acknowledge the
points that are being made by people with whom they disagree. And I’m talking about people who are making
points. An informed and civil discussion, that’s a
separate question. And the issue that Professor Jones raised
about when civil discussion is not the way to handle things. But I think we have to live with the fact
we’re not going to have consensus, not any time in my lifetime and probably any time
in the lifetime of anyone in this room. Trina or Thavolia, either of you? Go ahead. I mean, yeah, [INAUDIBLE]. So I have many thoughts circulating my head
in response to Sydneys’ question. And Jeremy, I think I would want to ask for
some examples of what you think is easy and what you think is more controversial because
I’m not sure that any of this is easy. I go back to Catharine MacKinnon’s words. This request that we utilize legal processes,
that we engage in civil discussion, ignores the injury and the urgency to redress the
injury. If people are conveying that these statues,
these symbols, are not just speech but are an act of racial subordination, then how can
we tolerate those clear instances? And we’ll have to discuss what are the clear
instances, right? How can we tolerate having them to continue
to exist, even for educational purposes? Is there a way to remedy the subordination
and also further some educational endeavor? It sounds a lot like “all deliberate speed”
in the Brown versus Board of Education opinions. There’s a constitutional violation. Here, one would argue– and many scholars
before us have argued– this is a form of racial subordination. These are not words. These are acts. If there is a violation, why take time in
remedying it? So I hear that, I think, Sydney, in your observation. At the same time, I hear, Jeremy, you’re saying
that there are going to be some complex instances where we will have to have more conversation
about what is to be done. Yes, so I think this is complex, Sydney, right? I think most thinking Americans– and I use
that term very loosely– would agree that they need to come down, all of them. I think a Gallup poll actually contradicts
that. Well, I said “thinking.” But you said “thinking,” so sorry. Yeah, I’m aware of the Gallup poll, yeah. But I also think that they will never, ever
all come down. I think the big question, at least for me,
is, why not, why there will never be a consensus to take them all down? Because it’s not just taking down monuments. It’s renaming streets, renaming buildings. You mentioned Julian Carr. We have a building on campus– it’s a Carr
building– which houses the history department named for Julian Carr. We’re not in a situation or anywhere near
as similar to the one Germany was in in 1945. Basically, you had a period of, what, from
1930, 1933 to 1945 when the Nazis gained control and did these atrocious things. We have 300 years plus of putting stuff up,
naming stuff for people whose lives, in many ways, we find today despicable. And then we have Jefferson. What do we do with him? And one of the foremost scholars on Jefferson,
Annette Gordon-Reed, who’s argued that he should not be taken down. Many scholars argue that those who were the
founding fathers contributed something, even if they owned slaves. It’s a hard question. for Silent Sam that really account for when
it went up, why it went up, and who said what. That helps to disempower that particular landscape,
but we can’t do it for everyone. I mean, there are thousands. And I once told my students when I first came
to Duke that I drive to campus on Jeff Davis highway every day. And one student said, who’s he? What I think the current debate is doing is
making us more aware of our history. There’s never been a time like this when people
were asking questions about who we are of the kind that we’re asking today. So I’m optimistic, but I don’t think we’ll
have a clean landscape. So we are out of time for now, but let me
encourage you along the lines of what Professor Siegel said, which is part of what’s great
about this community is that we figure out ways of having difficult conversations which
we have been having for the last three years and which we’ll continue to have, not just
this year, in the years to come. Let us continue to take advantage of those,
and come together, and work together, and hopefully resolve– we won’t resolve all of
these problems. But I think we have faith in all of you that
we can make some headway on some of them. Thank you for your time today, and I hope
that we honored your time through the insights of this panel. Thank you.

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