January 4, 2019

The Confederate Statue Controversy Must Lead To A Wider Conversation About Racism In Winston-Salem

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Updated 10:35, 1/05/2019, 433 words


Troublemakers force politicians to act. When a brave, anonymous activist added some commentary to Downtown Winston’s Confederate monument on Christmas Eve, it was an early Christmas gift for anti-racist activists in Winston and throughout the state. What was a one or two-day story, became the story in Winston-Salem that everyone is talking about when Mayor Allen Joines announced on January 1, a new plan to relocate Winston’s Confederate statue.

Chapel Hill is still the epicenter of the state’s Confederate statue debate. If lawmakers in the NC General Assembly and members of the UNC Board of Governors don’t back down, the state’s flagship public university is going to ignite. But Winston (who is used to playing second fiddle to Charlotte and cities in the Triangle) for the moment, finds itself in the middle of a statewide and national controversy.

Winston hasn’t garnered this type of attention since City Councilmember Dan Besse’s Welcoming City proposal brought immigration activists and racist xenophobes to City Hall in the spring of 2017.  As Jordan Green reported in this week’s Triad City Beat, racists and all manner of fascist are likely to come to West Fourth Street to rally around Johnny Rebel a little over a week from now.

Winston-Salem is
known as the second most racially
segregated divided city in the
nation. Not only psychologically
and mentally, but Winston-Salem is
physically a divided city. It really is
two cities in one. With the express¬
way being the old dividing line
between East Winston which is
mostly African-American and West
Winston which is mostly whites.

-former Alderman Larry Womble,

Winston-Salem Chronicle, March 31, 1993

Winston’s Confederate statue controversy isn’t going to fade from the headlines anytime soon. While the City of Winston-Salem’s attorneys are battling to remove that racist statue, Winston’s last public remnant of a rebel army that was defeated over 150 years, let’s widen the debate.

The Confederate statue at Fourth and Liberty is far from the only racist structure in Winston. Let’s have a conversation about race and inequity in our school system, and in housing. Let’s find policies to make Winston-Salem work for everyone, not just the privileged few members of the Winston-Salem Alliance. Let’s join organizations that are fighting for progressive change in Winston and beyond: Action4Now!, Action4Equity, the NAACP, the Urban League, the DSA, the ISO; the list goes on. Join whatever group you feel comfortable in. Collective action is the only way to fight systemic racism and inequity! Beyond bringing Johnny Rebel down, let’s work to bring down racial and socioeconomic walls that divide our neighborhoods and keep our city from becoming a beloved community.


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