Klan Hoods Add Context to North Carolina Monument

The contextualization of Confederate monuments can take many forms. For public historians the preferred method is the addition of historical markers that help visitors better understand the individuals/organizations responsible for the monument and time in which it was dedicated. The goal here is education and often an unstated assumption that their placement will somehow defuse the controversy. For activists whose goals are ultimately the removal of Confederate monuments context is often performative. It acknowledges some important aspect of the history of the monument even as it reflects the goals of the activist[s].

Last year UNC-Chapel Hill student Maya Little mixed her own blood with red paint before it was applied to the Silent Sam statue on campus. When asked to explain why she did it, Little responded that the statue lacked proper context. Little was, of course, referring to the 1913 dedication speech delivered by Julian Carr in which he recalled having “horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds.”

Today it was reported that Ku Klux Klan hoods were added to the mother and son figures that make up the Monument to North Carolina Women of the Confederacy located just outside the State House in Raleigh.

The dedication of this particular monument took place one year after Silent Sam and just prior to the release of Birth of a Nation and the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan at Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1915.

Governor Locke Craig’s dedication address on June 10, 1914 was an unapologetic celebration of the “onward march of the [white] race.”

Armies may be destroyed, ‘Far called our navies melt away’; yet from a land consecrated by the blood of the brave, from a soil enriched by glorious tradition, tried and purified by fire, a nobler, stronger race will come….

The heroic past is our priceless inheritance. Our armies were destroyed; our land was smitten by war; our homes were ravaged by avenging armies. We were plundered by the hordes of reconstruction. But standing in this land that has suffered, amid this throng of gray-haired veterans, and their kindred and descendants, I declare that the legacy of the war is our richest possession.

Covering the faces depicted in this monument with Klan hoods brings us right back to a truth that would have been readily acknowledged by anyone standing in the crowd on that June day.

About the author: Thank you for taking the time to read this post. What next? Scroll down and join the discussion in the comments section. Looking for more Civil War content? You can follow me on Twitter. Check out my forthcoming book, Searching For Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, which is the first book-length analysis of the black Confederate myth ever published. Pre-order your copy today.

17 comments… add one
  • Jon Williams Mar 4, 2019 @ 13:50

    This rules

  • Luanne Barnett Mar 4, 2019 @ 13:52

    Instead of a progression you digress into more racism. These statues are to honour men and women and our new nation, You cannot take a war back or forget it. It happened if not where would you be?Africa in a straw hut?Our heritage has every right to be proud of our ancestors and what happened. NOT CUT IT OUT!!

    • Kevin Levin Mar 4, 2019 @ 13:54

      These statues are to honour men and women and our new nation…

      I completely agree. It was meant to honor the WHITE men and women who, following war, defeat, and Reconstruction emerged once again as the dominant race. At least that is what the governor’s point appeared to be.

      • washingtonsenators01 Mar 4, 2019 @ 17:24

        Your statues honor men and women who committed treason against a duly elected government. Don’t even start with that “states right’s” horse manure. I was born and raised in Virginia, grandmother was a UDC president. I wish we could take it back. I’m tired of being lumped in with the people who spew this Lost Cause nonsense because I’m a white man from a southern state.. There’s nothing “romantic” about a war. It’s just young men dying so old men can keep their stuff. I’m sure my ancestors fought bravely and fought well, but all of that is undone by the fact that they fought for the wrong thing. What a waste.

        “Africa in a straw hut”? Nice. Real nice. Bless your heart…

    • Mary Mar 4, 2019 @ 14:07

      You’ve made your point that you want to make sure that your white heritage is proudly protected and remembered. You’ve also reminded those of African heritage that if your ancestors hadn’t brought them to serve yours, they’d still be living in an African straw hut.We wouldn’t want to digress into that racism, now, so CUT THAT OUT, RIGHT NOW!

      • John Mar 4, 2019 @ 16:31

        Luanne Barnett/”Mary” (same person): Your assumption that Africans, 400 years after the transatlantic slave trade to America began, would be living in “straw huts” demonstrates the level of your prejudicial assumptions, and foolishly depicts the capture, enslavement, sale, dehumanization, abuse and murder of other human beings as a net positive.

        Your assertion that “Our heritage has every right to be proud of our ancestors and what happened,” echoes your noxious “straw hut” sentiment, and appears to be a functional defense of, and pride in, slavery. While repugnant, then the contextualizing of the statues with white Klan hoods should just evoke another part of your pride.

        It should anyway, unless there’s still a part of you that recognizes the fundamental immorality of slavery in which your statements reveal you take pride, or more likely, there’s a part of you that is simply aware of the stigma inherent in holding such views, and you are afraid of public judgement under that stigma.

        You can choose against racism, Luanne, but it takes work, interaction, and education.

    • Ratherdrive Mar 4, 2019 @ 14:18

      “…Men and women of our new nation?” What new nation? Our new Nation was certainly no longer new in 1913.

      The portion of your heritage that you seem to be taking so much pride in was a heritage of treason, slavery. treason, racism, treason, bigotry and treason. To proclaim a Right to be proud of such evil is rather odd, at best.

      Surely you may have heard of a great many other things about Southern heritage to be proud of. Things that we could ALL celebrate.

  • Sally Hemingskid Mar 4, 2019 @ 14:42

    This monument was installed in 1914, the same year that a UDC historian published, and the UDC national convention unanimously endorsed, a pro-Klan book. So this seems like a very appropriate contextualization.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 4, 2019 @ 14:49

      You are absolutely right. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Andy Hall Mar 5, 2019 @ 8:38

    Apparently the local authorities weren’t clear on the specific crime committed here, so they charged him with “misdemeanor littering.” That’s hilarious.

    https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/wake-county-news/raleigh-man-charged-after-kkk-hoods-placed-on-capitol-confederate-monument/1828133390

    • Kevin Levin Mar 5, 2019 @ 10:30

      I chuckled as well. Apparently, adding historical context isn’t a crime.

      • Andy Hall Mar 5, 2019 @ 15:28

        Julian Carr, who gave that rancid speech at the dedication of the “Silent Sam” monument at Chapel Hill the year before, was an honored guest at the dedication of the monument in Raleigh. He was re-elected to the head of the North Carolina UCV as part of the reunion ceremonies associated with the dedication.

        • Kevin Levin Mar 5, 2019 @ 17:26

          I didn’t know that. Thanks.

    • Msb Mar 5, 2019 @ 17:22

      Pretty witty littering, I’d say.
      But the quality of the trolls around here is definitely falling off …

  • Sarw Jun 23, 2019 @ 13:32

    History cannot be altered, but not all needs to be celebrated, memorialized, etched in stone, or sculpted into the traitors who lauded slavery. Time to deconstruct and see the Confederacy for what it is… A black spot in America’s history.

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