DAVIDSON, N.C. — Carolyn Pryor walks the streets of Davidson nearly every day.
As a newcomer to North Carolina, she enjoys the historical markers around town highlighting interesting people and places. But as she found out, some are stained with a dark history.
“It doesn’t say anything about the Confederacy. But, it also isn’t a monument,” Pryor said, talking about the highway marker outside the Davidson College Cemetery.
After weeks of debate, the town board authorized the mayor to officially ask the state to remove the marker identifying the burial site of Confederate General D.H. Hill, who was an instructor at Davidson College.
“How do we tell the painful aspects of our past?” Commissioner Jane Campbell asked during a virtual town meeting last week.
“I don’t think you whitewash history and gloss it over,” Commissioner Jim Fuller answered back.
In that virtual town meeting, Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox said the marker is offensive to some. Nearly every commissioner voted in favor of its removal, except for Commissioner David Sitton.
“Why do we pick him and not the others?” Sitton asked, arguing that the removal could create a slippery slope and that leaders may be forced to consider changing the town name, which bears the namesake of slaveowner William Lee Davidson.
“It’s going to be a point here where the same question gets asked for Davidson,” Sitton said.
Instead of removing the marker outright, others, like Pryor, believe the town should receive more community feedback from the Black community.
“To me, I think the markers are fine. History is history," Pryor said. “But, I can’t speak for their pain and whether or not these markers exemplify it.”
Commissioners also discussed adding more context to the marker, but first want to get authorization from the state before they do anything else. Commissioners raised the idea to request the marker be removed, citing the state’s double marker rule.
D.H. Hill also has a marker at the former site of the state’s Military Institute in Charlotte.
A committee would then review the request and decide which one would stay. Town commissioners are looking into creating their own historical marker program but said removing or renaming the current marker is top priority.
The mayor is expected to send the letter to state officials later this week.
© 2020 Cox Media Group