Friday, November 04, 2005

Singing the unsung

A little over a year ago, at a conference about Reconstruction at UNC, Yonni Chapman asked us to join him on a trip around campus:

Imagine, if you will, a campus transformed by a sense of social justice. Let’s walk across Franklin Street and enter the campus by Battle-Vance-Pettigrew. The first thing we would see is a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King reaching out to us to help “save the soul of America.” As we walk on, past Silent Sam, we would come to the statue in front of the Alumni Building honoring UNC’s unsung founders, the black workers, slave and free, who built Old East and other university buildings. . . .

Most of the stops on his tour live only in the imagination (so far), but the memorial to the unsung founders is for real. Tomorrow at 10 a.m. it will be dedicated.

unsung founders

It's been installed since May. I've hardly ever walked past it when no one was sitting there talking, or eating. You rarely see public art this successful at drawing the public in. In homage to the people whose enforced service it honors and attempts in some way to atone for, it is unassuming and serviceable. And yet, look closely: it also honors their strength.

unsung founders 2

UPDATE: More here.

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