WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tuesday marked one year since the Silent Sam Confederate monument was toppled by protesters at UNC Chapel Hill. On Wednesday, a forum was held in Wilmington to discuss how the Confederacy is still impacting the lives of African-Americans.
Panelists at the forum included representatives from the NAACP, community activists, authors, attorneys and descendants of the victims of the 1898 insurrection.
“We don’t need no reminders that this country was split in half, because some people wanted to dog, dominate, and treat other people like animals, and then think that that was something special,” said panelist Kojo Nanambu.
While everyone on the panel agreed that the monuments in Wilmington should be removed, they say those statues are just a symbol of a much larger issue.
“They want to tell us that slavery was back then, it doesn’t have anything to do with now. Well, why are you still talking about the confederacy, why are you still talking about the good old south?” Nantambu asked.
The discussion was moderated and hosted by Joe Finley, co-founder of Tek Mountain and Castlebranch. He says events of the past have led to different treatment of black and white people today.
“You can look at health disparities, white people tend to be healthier overall than black people in our community,” Finley said. “You can look at the economic disparities, as far as the amount of money that people make in a year, to the amount of money that people pass onto their kids.”
So what is the solution? Some panelists mentioned reparations, in the form of money or housing and education opportunities.
“The change really comes often times from leadership, people who are in charge and making sure they’re the ones who push the change through, but people have to hold leaders accountable,” Finley said.
Confederate monuments are protected under state law, but activists are hoping they can have that law changed and perhaps have monuments moved to museums.