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Irons offers insights for discussion about Confederate statues, race relations

Charles Irons, professor of history, was recently cited in an article about the Confederate statue debate that ran in more than 30 media outlets, and he participated in a panel discussion about local race relations that generated media coverage. 

History Professor Charles Irons has been lending his expertise in the history of the Civil War and the American South to the discussion about the future of Confederate statues and the current state of local race relations. 

Irons was interviewed by a reporter from Reuters who was exploring the debate over whether a statue of a Confederate solider in the Alamance County city of Graham should remain or be taken down. The article published Sept. 1 by Colleen Jenkins and titled "In North Carolina county, strong support for Confederate statue," examined local sentiment about the statue, which was erected in 1914 outside the historic courthouse in Graham. 

Irons noted that the statue is "fairly archetypal" among other statues erected across the South decades after the Civil War ended. "To pretend that this monument erected by private, white-only dollars actually represented the sentiments of all citizens of the country is self evidently not true," Irons said. 

The article republished by The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, MSN, Business Insider and dozens of other media outlets. 

Irons was also a panelist for an Aug. 31 forum hosted by Down Home North Carolina, a group that works toward building power for working people in small towns and rural communities, in Graham that looked at race relations in Alamance County. The panel discussion was attended by more than 100 people and drew coverage by The Times-News of Burlington

Irons offered insights about slave ownership in Alamance County prior to the Civil War as well as the shift in political power following the war. "It gets awful in the county, and it gets awful fast," Irons said during the discussion, according to the Times-News, pointing to the 1870 lynching of the prominent business leader and county commissioner Wyatt Outlaw. 

Owen Covington,
9/1/2017 10:45 AM