By Allen Lin, Staff Writer-
An event discussing the future of Confederate monuments was hacked by what appeared to be people from the community, spewing racist comments to the speaker and the attendees.
One perpetrator uttered the N-word and another commented on pornography.
Their motives were unclear, but the discussion was disrupted by the hijackers. The professors hosting the event did not respond to a request for comment on their reactions to the chaos.
Prior to the disturbance, the guest speaker, Assistant Professor from Virginia Tech Dr. Meredith Drum, led the discussion entitled “The Future of Confederate Monuments” with the support of the UTC history department.
Drum explained her augmented reality project, the Monument Public Address System, and presented various speakers she interviewed regarding the issue of Confederate monuments.
One of the interviewees, Dustin Klein, made it his life work to project African American leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Frederick Douglass onto the Confederate statues to emphasize the importance of representing all sides of history.
The purpose of Drum’s augmented reality project was to show the narratives from both sides of the argument and to allow the citizens to decide the future of the Confederate monuments.
Dr. Michael Thompson, associate professor of history and a host for the event expressed his thoughts on the importance of this talk.
“The initiative examines monuments, particularly Confederate monuments, as shapers of our culture, values, beliefs, and our social and political behavior,” Thompson said. “Issues of race, memorialization, the public memory of slavery, and racial oppression are especially lively, especially important right now.”
“A series of tragic murders of Black Americans have sparked the Black Lives Matter movement and have led to an international reckoning with symbols of racism, slavery, and colonialism,” he continued. “Protestors, journalists, academics, students, politicians, and others have debated the relationship between racism and Confederate symbols for decades.”
Community members, like Mr. Hemsley, were also present and active in the discussion.
He stated that his parents were slave owners, but “the monuments must be removed because they are there to alter history.” “They need to be moved so they don’t continue to provide the wrong emotions.”
Marie Mott, a community activist who has been vocal on the issue of the statues, was not present during the event but shared her views on the future of Confederate monuments in an interview.
“Confederate statues need to be moved into museums so people could understand the atrocities and that Black people and people of color should be respected,” Mott said. “They should not be in our communities or in our federal state buildings. In fact, there should be an advancement in citizen education, so we do not repeat that history.”
More information about this topic can be found here.