Durham protests spark discussion over Confederate monuments in the Triad

Tucked in the corner of High Point's Oakwood Cemetery is the resting place for 50 confederate soldiers. They were from across the South, from Alabama to Georgia to North Carolina.

"They fought and died for a cause that wasn't necessarily for slavery, it was defending their homeland from northern invaders," said Bill Phillips, a local history buff and expert on High Point during the civil war era.

He says the war may not have been the brightest moment in American history, but that doesn't make it unimportant.

"You need to know where you've been to know where you're going," Phillips said.

This after protesters tore down a statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham after rising tensions over race in Charlottesville. Gov. Roy Cooper took to Twitter saying "there are better ways to remove these monuments," and now he has taken that one step further.

In a blog post the governor said, "We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down."

"We can't take everything down because one group of people don't like it or one group of people don't believe in it," Burlington resident Ashley Lee said. As an African-American, Lee understands why some people may take offense to these statues, but admits it doesn't bother her as much. She passes one on her way to work in downtown Graham every day.

"Times have changed, we have our opportunity, you know you can do what you want to do," Lee said. "That's the past, it's history."

The governor did indicate these statues belong in a museum and Greensboro Historical Museum Director Carol Hart agrees.

"Maybe they don't belong on the street anymore, maybe their place that you can really understand them is in a museum," Hart said.

Hart says most of these monuments were put up at the turn of the century and a lot has changed since the late 1800s.

But it is against the law for local governments to remove these statues and monuments because of a bill former Gov. Pat McCrory signed. Only the legislature has the power to repeal this law and return the power for cities to decide if they want these monuments removed.