This is personal. I have been reading the news with growing concern for the last few days. A year ago I spent some wonderful weeks in Durham and at Duke University, and some of my friends still live there. Unfortunately, it is only rarely that we can talk to each other, but I check Duke Today and the Herald Sun of Durham on a daily basis to follow up the latest events in the Duke community.
On Friday, I received an e-mail from the International House (or iHouse) of Duke calling the attention of the international students, scholars and spouses to stay away from Durham downtown. Hundreds are reported to have descended on downtown Durham on Friday to oppose a rumored KKK march. Even though the white supremacists didn’t show up, protesters refused to go home and the whole event ended up in a tense standoff with police wearing helmets and holding batons.
This morning Duke Today publish Duke president Vincent E. Price’s letter sent to the campus community yesterday in which the president announces his decision of removing Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue that had stood at Duke Chapel for some 85 years.
As President Price explained, “I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university,”
Even the Washington Post reported this decision of his:
“Duke University removed a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee early Saturday after it was vandalized amid a national debate about monuments to the Confederacy.”
Durham has been one of the focal points of the ongoing debate over Confederate statues after protesters knocked down a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier in front of a government building downtown on Monday. Eight people are charged with rioting and damaging property. Days later, hundreds marched through Durham in a mainly peaceful demonstration against racism before an impromptu rally at the stone pedestal where the statue stood.
I hope everyone is fine. Be careful.