Mark Dixon, Creative Commons
NC Sees Effects of Charlottesville
For many Americans, this summer has been controversial with citizens clashing over matters of politics, rights, and protests. The clashes began on the night of August 12th, 2017, when hundreds of white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia took things a little too far. During this “Unite the Right” rally, protesters carried tiki torches while objecting at the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee. Events quickly escalated from there, with a car crashing into counter-protesters, resulting in nineteen injuries and the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and state police reporting a helicopter crash that killed two state troopers.
These protests have sparked many other counter-protests across the country, including cities like Nashville, Knoxville, Lexington, and a closer to home in Durham, North Carolina. Citizens toppled the statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the old Durham courthouse in response to alleged rumors that the Ku Klux Klan was supposed to march. In addition, a statue of Robert E. Lee at Duke University was removed after it was vandalized.
The impact of these events resonate strongly with the diverse body of students at Green Hope High School- according to usnews.com, 37% of students belong to a minority. Senior Justin Sprink attended the counter-protests in Durham. When asked about why he chose to attend, he responded, “I saw on Twitter that the KKK was supposed to go and there was a huge counter-protest, and I thought it would be big news and I wanted to be part of it.” He described his experience as “… a lot of fun. The counter-protest was a big group of people in front of the courthouse, and there was a big drum line, and everyone was dancing, and having fun, and holding signs.”
Protests or not, the controversy continues regarding whether Confederate statues and flags should be removed from public and government properties. Those against removing Confederate items argue that doing so is erasing history, as they are symbols of Southern pride. They assert that once statues begin to be taken down, there is no limit for where the removal stops: former U.S. Presidents such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even Abraham Lincoln were slaveholders. However, many proponents of removal say that statues belong in museums, not in front of state government buildings, where messages of racism, hatred, and slavery should not be displayed.