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Hillsborough has its own Confederate debate, but about a building

Posted June 22, 2015
Updated June 23, 2015

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— Hours after legislative leaders in two states and the nation’s largest retailer took efforts to remove Confederate symbols, Hillsborough commissioners debated taking their own action against the Confederacy.

But Monday’s debate involved not a flag, but two words above the entrance to the Orange County Historical Museum.

Discussion regarding whether to remove the words “Confederate Memorial,” coincidentally, came just a few hours after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley declared that the Confederate flag should be removed from statehouse grounds. The announcement was made days after nine people were killed inside a black Charleston, S.C. church. The suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, who is white, appeared in photos embracing the flag.

After Haley’s announcement, Mississippi’s Republican house speaker said the Confederate battle emblem should be removed from the state flag. In a statement, Walmart announced plans to remove all items promoting the flag from its stores and website, according to news reports.

Opponents say the flag is a symbol of racism used by the Confederacy, which supported slavery, and then by groups such as the Klu Klux Klan. Proponents say the flag is about heritage and pride.

Removing Confederate symbols from public buildings often divides residents, and such was no different in Hillsborough.

Commissioner Jenn Weaver’s motion to begin the process to remove the words was voted down.

Other commissioners, including Brian Lowen, the only African-American on the board, wanted more community input before making a decision.

“What we want to consider what is the responsibility for the building and also what we're trying to accomplish,” Mayor Tom Stevens said. “So if we are trying to honor a particular group, that may be one thing, but I think what the museum is talking about is we make it a place that is accessible and open and welcoming to everybody.”

The museum building opened as a “whites only” Confederate memorial library in 1934 and became a county museum in 1982.

Removing the name has been discussed for weeks since a member of the Hillsborough Historical Foundation brought the issue to commissioners.

Some residents want the words to stay.

“If you (remove the words) then you're going to have to go around and change a lot of names on the buildings,” resident Steve Tilley said. “Leave it like it is. It's part of our history. It's not good, but 610,000 people died in the Civil War.”

Stevens did not have a timeline regarding when a decision will be made.

"Obviously it’s very timely now, given what’s happening in our country, in South Carolina and other places that are looking at issues like the flags and what does the Civil War mean, and symbols of the Civil War,” he said.

36 Comments

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  • John Jones Jun 23, 2015
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    I'm greatly offended we have organizations created solely for the black people. Someone please answer my question. Why do we have a Miss America Pageant where ANYONE regardless of ethnic back ground or color can compete in, but we have a Miss Black America Pageant where ONLY blacks can compete in? Do you think there is still a need for it and is it racist to have groups only for blacks. Why do we need a NAACP anymore? Do we need a NAAWP to represent white people? Someone please tell me why there are so many groups/organization's only for blacks in 2015. That is extremely racist to me and I don't have a racist bone in my body.

  • Paul Jones Jun 23, 2015
    user avatar

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    I'll try to respond to your questions:

    1. I wonder if Germans fly the Nazi flag and monuments of Hitler for heritage?

    Many Germans didn't agree with Hitler, either. Like Mao in China and other dictators around the world, people are forced to obey. He was a hated man.

    2. If NC isn't racist, then why do high minority regions pay the lowest wages; graduates from minority colleges earn far lower salaries; higher paying companies never seem to make it to these towns, but plenty of low pay and high risk industries do?

    Wages are dictated by supply/demand, skills, education, etc. Rural areas, regardless of race, are usually lower-paying areas with a lower cost of living.

    I don't know anything about wages of graduates from black colleges, but wages depend on types of degrees, where the person lives, etc.

  • Chris Weaver Jun 23, 2015
    user avatar

    lets all take a breath on this... the only person offended by the name is the WHITE UK Educated Yankee... Jenn Weaver had to be lead to the "Barrier"...

  • Lisa Marie Fields Jun 23, 2015
    user avatar

    The way things are going we might as well burn all the history books, get rid of all history classes, and close down all history houses and museums.

  • Lisa Marie Fields Jun 23, 2015
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    Your point on this is silly, I am paying for my house not anyone else!!!

  • Chris Weaver Jun 23, 2015
    user avatar

    Franklin street was named after a conservative... that's gotta go..
    the Strudwick house where fredric was concived still stands... it must be burned down...
    the singular power structure that Studwick solidified still controls this county 100%... Fredric Nash Strudwick the leader of the OC KKK made it possible for the single control of this county...100%.... since 1870

  • William Cameron Jun 23, 2015
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    I want all the Roads named Cornwallis to be renamed. The British lost the war.

  • Jim Buchanan Jun 23, 2015
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    Good try. Try again!

  • Jim Buchanan Jun 23, 2015
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    Single event! Can't blame everyone by one person! If that was the case, I would be scared to see you in a movie theater...which I am not!

  • Jewel Lee Jun 23, 2015
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    If it was given to me as a gift, and the person who gave it to me left their name on it as a memorial.... I most certainly would NOT degrade that. Where you raised in the south Joaquin?

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