"A Symbol of Enslavement and Secession"

The Winston-Salem Monument to Confederate Dead

In 2015, North Carolina implemented state legislation requiring the approval of the General Assembly for the removal of any monument on public property that commemorates “an event, a person or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.”[1]

Included in the affected monuments was a Confederate monument that sat in front of the old Forsyth County Courthouse in Winston-Salem. The monument—a statue of a Confederate soldier standing on a 24-foot tall base—was erected in 1905 by the James B. Gordon Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). James B. Gordon was a Confederate general from Wilkes County, North Carolina who was killed in action in. On the front of the monument, large raised letters read “Our Confederate Dead,” and an engraving on the base “speaks of glory and fame for Southern soldiers who died in the Civil War.”[2] The court left the building behind in 1974 and in 2014 it was converted into a luxury apartment complex. But the towering monument remained.

After the new monument bill had passed the state congress—but shortly before Gov. Pat McCrory officially signed it into law—the Winston-Salem Chronicle reported on attitudes about the statue’s presence. The new building management declined to comment, but did say they had received no complaints from any of the residents about the statue.[3]

Deputy County Manager Damon Sanders-Pratt told the Chronicle that the UDC still owned the statue at the time and neither the new property owners nor the county government could decide its fate. The _Chronicle _also sought comment from the local chapter of the UDC, but reported that their requests were ignored.[4]

The Chronicle was able to speak with County Commissioner Walter Marshall, who said he did not believe the statue belonged on government property. While he thought the statue “has a place in our history and it should be preserved,” he also saw it as a symbol of enslavement and secession, making it inappropriate for a public space.[5]

In 2017, the monument was the site of a protest conducted by the group Indivisible Piedmont. As of 2023, Indivisible Piedmont described themselves on their Facebook page as a group “dedicated to resisting the Trump agenda.”[6] A few days before the demonstration, the statue was vandalized, although this was quickly cleaned up by city officials.

On the day of the demonstration, the members of Indivisible Piedmont were met by over a dozen residents armed with guns, who claimed to be there to protect the statue. The Chronicle spoke to two of these citizens, both of whom declined to offer their last names. One man, John, asserted he and his compatriots were not part of any hate group and that their agenda was simply to preserve history “no matter good or bad.”[7] The other man, Rodney, insisted that the KKK and neo-Nazis had hijacked the symbols of the Confederacy. He stated. “We don’t support the KKK…it has nothing to do with the Civil War or what Robert Lee represented at all. A lot of people are misinformed on why they’re taking these [monuments] down.”[8]

The monument was removed in 2019 and placed into city storage. In late 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court dismissed the UDC’s attempts to challenge the removal as the monument was on private property.[9]

Olivia Haynie


Indivisible Piedmont. “Indivisible Piedmont NC.” Facebook.com, Accessed July 28, 2023. Available at https://www.facebook.com/indivisiblepiedmontncpage/.

Luck, Todd. “Who owns this statue?” Winston-Salem Chronicle, July 23, 2015.

Schoenbaum, Hannah. “NC Supreme Court dismisses suit to return Confederate statue.” apnews.com. Accessed December 16, 2022. Available at https://apnews.com/article/lawsuits-north-carolina-winston-salem-96ea4f928c997ed905fb37991367114b.

Stinson, Tevin. “Protesters and others protecting Confederate monument meet downtown.” Winston-Salem Chronicle, August 24, 2017.

  1. Luck, “Who owns this statue?” Winston-Salem Chronicle. ↩︎

  2. Luck, “Who owns this statue?” Winston-Salem Chronicle. ↩︎

  3. Luck, “Who owns this statue?” Winston-Salem Chronicle. ↩︎

  4. Luck, “Who owns this statue?” Winston-Salem Chronicle. ↩︎

  5. Luck, “Who owns this statue?” Winston-Salem Chronicle. ↩︎

  6. Indivisible Piedmont, “Indivisible Piedmont NC,” facebook.com. ↩︎

  7. Stinson, “Protesters and others protecting Confederate monument meet downtown,” Winston-Salem Chronicle. ↩︎

  8. Stinson, “Protesters and others protecting Confederate monument meet downtown,” Winston-Salem Chronicle. ↩︎

  9. Schoenbaum, “NC Supreme Court dismisses suit to return Confederate statue,” apnews.com ↩︎