Statement of Solidarity with UNC-Chapel Hill TA Strike
The Graduate Employees’ Organization, IFT/AFT Local 6300, stands in solidarity with teaching assistants and anti-racist activists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who have called for teaching assistants and faculty members to go on strike and withhold final grades in response to the UNC Board of Trustees’ plan to reinstate the campus’ racist Silent Sam statue. Silent Sam was initially erected in 1913–a full 50 years after enslaved people forced the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation–by a white supremacist group called the United Daughters of the Confederacy. From its inception, Silent Sam was meant to be a monument to white supremacy, as evidenced by Julian Carr’s dedication speech, in which he declared that confederate soldiers had “saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race” and referred to whipping a “negro wench” in front of federal soldiers for insulting a “Southern lady.”
Not only have UNC’s Board and Chancellor decided to reinstate this monument, they have planned to do so at an immense cost: $5.3 million dollars, at a time when the university is raising student fees to make up a facilities maintenance budget.
No person should be expected to work or study in a racially hostile environment. We call on the UNC administration to do the right thing and accede to the protesters’ demands. We know first hand that the call to strike is not one to be made lightly, and we applaud TAs and faculty at UNC who are taking this step in the name of justice.