“It’s a weight off our shoulders”: Family with slavery ties says removal of Confederate monuments is a relief

“It’s a weight off our shoulders”: Family with slavery ties says removal of Confederate monuments is a relief
Soldiers of the Confederacy statue in downtown Wilmington vandalized with orange paint (Source: wect)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s been just over two weeks since two Confederate statues in downtown Wilmington were taken down. But for families who trace their heritage back to times of slavery, they say it’s a weight off their shoulders.

“I pray that it’s permanent,” said Sonya Patrick, who has family ties to slavery. “But if not, let’s just embrace the moment.”

Patrick keeps a framed picture of her great grandmother. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but, hers tells generations of stories.

“She passed the stories to my mother, my mother passed them to me,” said Patrick. “That’s why it’s important to listen to those parents, you know sometimes we don’t wanna hear it.”

Patrick’s great grandmother was a slave and she has great uncles who fought as members of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War.

And because of that, she says the Confederate monuments downtown have always been a thorn in her side.

But now she imagines differently as she considers what great grandmother Fannie Williams would think.

“She would be very happy that the statues are down,” said Patrick. “Probably wondering why it took so long because it’s been 150 years.”

As a girl Patrick’s mother told her stories of ancestors and growing up she’s seen minorities take a stand for equality like the Wilmington Ten.

And now that her fight has helped bring down signs of oppression, it’s these displays that have pushed her to become the activist she is today.

“I saw a lot of things that were going on during the civil rights era and I felt obligated,” said Patrick. “If these people are giving their life then I’m obligated to carry the torch.”

It’s unclear whether the downtown Wilmington statues will be put back in place. City officials say they were removed to “protect public safety and to preserve historical artifacts” amid protests and vandalism of Confederate monuments across the country.

Regardless, activists like Patrick say for now the removal is a small victory.

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