RALEIGH, N.C. - Today, the North Carolina Commission on Racial Equity and Ethnic Disparities (NC CRED) launched a statewide campaign to remove Confederate monuments from courthouse grounds. The group asserts that the monuments, many of which were erected during the Jim Crow era, should no longer have a legitimate space in public property. The campaign’s goal is to identify, document the history of, and remove all Confederate Monuments currently erected on courthouse grounds in the state of North Carolina.
“Our public grounds, especially our courthouse grounds, should not be home to symbols that honor white supremacy,” said James E. Williams, Jr., Chair of NC CRED. “Their presence at courthouses undermines our country's aspirational goal of guaranteeing equal justice under the law, something that cannot be realized as long as people of color have to walk past monuments to white supremacy to enter a courthouse.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), North Carolina has the third most monuments of any state (79), many on courthouse grounds. SPLC’s data set of Confederate monuments can be viewed at this link.
As part of the campaign, NC CRED will:
- Create a complete and accurate public catalog of all Confederate statues, monuments, portraits, and other symbols on courthouse grounds and inside courthouses in North Carolina;
- Compile an accurate history of these objects, including when they were erected; who erected them; statements made as part of any campaign to create, construct, erect, and dedicate them, including when available transcripts of speeches and statements made at their dedication, and copies of all published or private accounts of their dedication, including photographs;
- Sponsor public events, including lectures, seminars, and conferences to educate the public on the history of Confederate Monuments in North Carolina;
- Work in coalitions to develop a comprehensive legislative and legal strategy to empower local communities to remove Confederate Monuments from their public spaces;
- Serve as a resource for local communities and groups attempting to remove Confederate Monuments; and,
- Create and maintain a website that can serve as a state clearinghouse for information on Confederate Monuments in North Carolina, including a calendar of public events, articles, books, media coverage, proposed legislation, and successful local campaigns.
“For generations now, Black residents have been bitterly welcomed by these symbols that include monuments, murals, portraits, and other racist iconography,” said Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, President of the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and NC CRED Commission Member. “Removing the monuments will not erase history. Instead, it will create history as we endeavor to right the wrongs of what they represent. We’re encouraged by the monuments that have been removed thus far, and hopeful that every single one of them will be removed.”
In 2020, NC CRED wrote a letter to N.C. Supreme Court asking then-Chief Justice Cheri Beasley to remove portrayals of former Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin, a notoriously cruel slave owner. A statue of Ruffin was removed from the N.C. Court of Appeals building in July 2020 and a life-size portrait of Ruffin was removed from a prominent location in the N.C. Supreme Court courtroom in December 2020. Upon ordering its removal, Chief Justice Beasley stated, “It is important that our courtroom spaces convey the highest ideals of justice and that people who come before our Court feel comfortable knowing that they will be treated fairly.”
NC CRED’s website hosts a petition that will guide the campaign’s advocacy and coordination. At least 58 counties in North Carolina have Confederate monuments, and the groups view each location as an opportunity to build community support. NC CRED hopes to be a resource for local advocacy, building on the expertise of its members and staff.
North Carolina Commission on Racial & Ethnic Disparities (NC CRED) is a nonpartisan organization that works across professional, political and ideological lines to identify, document, and develop strategies to reduce racial disparities in North Carolina’s juvenile and criminal justice systems. NC CRED brings together a diverse group of more than 30 criminal justice leaders and stakeholders who share a commitment to building a more equitable, effective, and humane criminal justice system throughout the state. Represented on the Commission are judges, Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement leaders; District Attorneys, Public Defenders, community advocates, law professors, and scholars. We’re pursuing innovative, empirically-based solutions to reform the criminal justice system. The Commission envisions a criminal and juvenile justice system that is fair, humane, and effective.
A full list of NC CRED members is available at https://nccred.org/about/