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Prominent UNC athletes helped derail Silent Sam’s return to campus

Statue is ‘Slap in the face’ to African Americans …

The UNC Board of Governors has shot down a proposal for the controversial Confederate monument “Silent Sam” to return to UNC Chapel Hill in a history center to be constructed for the statue — and several former North Carolina athletes, including several prominent basketball players, helped sway the decision.

The university tweeted about hearing, saying “the passion and conviction of our students, faculty, staff and alumni” was one of the factors in the decision. Former UNC athletes published an open letter on the issue that weighed heavily on that decision, according to The New York Times.

It reports that more than a dozen former North Carolina athletes, including several prominent basketball players, signed their names to a letter claiming the university treated black students as “accessories” and accused the university of being “unwilling to listen to students and faculty who asked for Silent Sam to be permanently removed from campus.”

The open letter is signed by such basketball stars as Vince Carter, Harrison Barnes and Jerry Stackhouse, all of whom graduated from UNC.

“As former Carolina athletes, we recognize the very difficult position current scholarship athletes face in joining a public protest against this representation of white supremacy on our campus,” the letter reads.

It continues:

We would have liked to have heard the opinion of the athletic department leadership and coaches regarding this disposition of Silent Sam…especially in light of the high number of Black athletes who have participated on the basketball, football and track and field teams over the history of Carolina athletics. Their silence is very glaring and tells us a story.

We agree with the 500+ member Black Student Movement statement that Black students and faculty are often used by the university as “accessories.” We were a part of that sacrifice and branding. We helped to tell the story that Carolina is the “University of the People.” We love UNC but now also feel a disconnect from an institution that was unwilling to listen to students and faculty who asked for Silent Sam to be permanently removed from campus. The recommendation is embarrassing to us who proudly promote UNC.

It also describes the return of the statue as a “slap in the face” to African Americans.

The school announced that it would be working on an off-campus solution to the situation that would be released on March 15.

Read the full letter and the Times’ story.

MORE: ‘Silent Sam’ history center shot down

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