Now is the time for communities to implement a growing national vision to remove confederate monuments, especially from houses of justice. This toolkit offers a step-by-step guide to building a removal campaign in your own community.
It is adapted from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s, Whose Heritage? Community Action Guide
This North Carolina-specific toolkit places SPLC’s wisdom within the North Carolina context. NC-CRED hopes that this toolkit will allow communities to actively participate in the ongoing discourse about confederate monuments. We want to shift the narrative that presents these monuments simply as markers of historical events and people to one that addresses the systemic racism that continues to thrive within the criminal legal system.
What you can do in your community
Step 1: Research the symbol. It’s important to find out the history of the monument in your community. The popular lore about why the monument is displayed may not reflect the true history. Even historical markers and brochures for some displays may not accurately tell the story. This means taking the time to conduct research online, at the library or state archives.
- You can begin your research here. The information on this website is provided by the UNC’s Commemorative Landscapes Project.
In addition, we encourage you to go to records, such as newspaper reports, to get a better understanding of the history — and the motivation — behind the display of the symbol. If the symbol is the name of a figure from the Confederacy, research that person’s history. Document why their legacy doesn’t reflect the values of the community. Find out when the symbol was first displayed in your community. Many Confederate symbols began appearing after the U.S. Supreme Court’s school desegregation ruling in 1954 and continued to appear in the 1960s to protest the civil rights movement. Some monuments in North Carolina were even erected in the 21st century.
Step 2: Map the path to change.
Find out what governmental body is responsible for overseeing or maintaining the display.
- This Campaign and the legal and historical experts supporting it are happy to assist local efforts to remove monuments. Feel free to contact us so that we can help you develop a removal strategy for your county.
- Learn more about North Carolina’s law governing removal of monuments here.
Step 3: Organize and raise awareness.
After you conduct the research, it’s important to build public support. Policymakers may be hesitant to remove the symbol if they believe there is no public demand for such action or that it will raise the ire of constituents. Demonstrating public support for the symbol’s removal can overcome this obstacle.
Here are ways to build support for your effort:
Identify community groups and leaders that may support your effort. Enlisting these groups can quickly amplify your campaign. These groups can contact their members and can sign on to a letter to the appropriate governmental body, for example.
- Our Educational Resources can give you the information to make persuasive arguments for monument removal.
- See resolutions already passed by North Carolina groups here.
Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. If you have already enlisted civic groups in your cause, encourage each group to send its own letter to the local newspaper to show broad support.
Contact local media. Try to get the news media in your community to cover your campaign. This can be done by calling your local newspaper, television station or radio station. Ask to speak to an assignment editor. Explain your campaign, but be brief and to the point. Ask for the name and contact information of someone to whom you can email a press release or other information updating them on the campaign’s progress. Maintain a list of local media contacts, with names, phone numbers and email addresses.
Build an email list of supporters. You can use this list to send regular updates about the campaign, to send alerts about meetings or rallies, and to have discussions about strategies.
Use social media to raise awareness. Don’t stop with just introducing the topic to people. Give them a reason to follow you on social media. Update them with your progress. Set up a Facebook page and use it and other social media outlets such as Twitter to regularly provide facts from your research that show why this symbol should be removed. Share success stories from other communities or other news related to your campaign.
An online petition can help generate interest. There are a variety of websites to help you create a petition, including https://sign.moveon.org/. As it receives signatures, update your social media followers, and mention the signatures in your letter to the editor and when you speak with officials and potential supporters.
- Sign NC CRED’s petition to remove confederate monuments here and forward it to your local supporters
Organize a rally or other peaceful demonstration to raise awareness and generate media interest. Designate a spokesperson to speak at the event and to any media. Be sure to alert your local news media with information about the time and place, and be conscious of the timing so it occurs far enough in advance of the noon or evening TV news programs to be included in the broadcast. Try to make your event visually interesting (signs and banners can help) so that newspaper photographers and TV camera people will be able to capture compelling images that will make it more likely your event will make the news.
- Find the Latest News on monument removal actions in North Carolina here.
Contact policymakers to support your effort. These can be policymakers with the governmental body that can remove the symbol as well as other influential officials. Call the office of the appropriate public official to arrange a meeting. Use your research to clearly explain why the symbol should be removed. You might describe how it’s a divisive symbol rooted in a history of slavery and racism. Regardless of the response, be courteous and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
- Find contact information for your local officials on the page for your county’s monument
SPLC’s Toolkit offers helpful advice on Responding to Objections and Myths about Confederate Monuments. Find the complete SPLC toolkit here: Whose Heritage? Community Action Guide.