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UNC History Professor: Confederate Monuments Present 'Serious Challenges'

Statue of Henry Lawson Wyatt, Confederate soldier, on the capitol grounds in Raleigh.
Ron Cogswell
/
Flickr / https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/by-2.0/

Communities across the South face renewed pressure to remove Confederate monuments, following the deadly weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.  In North Carolina, more than 200 monuments and memorials are dedicated to the Confederacy or Confederate soldiers, according to UNC history professor W. "Fitz" Brundage.

He says groups seeking to honor the Confederacy purchased many such monuments that were installed in public places across the former Confederate states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. "Many of them were bought, if you will, from mail-order catalogues from foundries where they were mass produced," says Brundage. "Some of those monuments, in other words, are not works of great aesthetic significance," he adds. 

Brundage estimates there are at least 1,000 and perhaps as many as 1,500 such monuments across the South. He says they were typically erected to "honor, commemorate and justify the Confederate cause."

Brundage says there is historical value in preserving some Confederate statues. But he believes they should be displayed in settings where they can be "properly presented" and interpreted for audiences.