GRAHAM, N.C. — For weeks, the city of Graham has made headlines due to the controversy surrounding the Confederate monument in front of the Alamance County Historic Courthouse.
On Saturday, protesters marched for justice and community.
The demonstration started in Burlington and ended in Graham’s Court Square.
What started as a small group marching along Harden Street in Burlington quickly grew to a large crowd of more than 1,000 people in Graham’s town square.
“There’s too many of us to be silenced. We will not be silent,” said James Wilkes, Senior Pastor at Elon First Baptist Church.
The group called for justice, community and the removal of the Confederate statue outside of the historic courthouse.
Rev. Greg Drumwright, a national activist and Burlington native, organized Saturday’s peaceful march. Despite the heat, people stood together and raised their voices in song and demanded justice and change.
“You cannot uplift the history of that Confederate monument and not uplift the dark history where Confederate regimes, the daughters of the Confederate hung black and brown bodies,” Drumwright said.
On the opposite end of Court Square, counter-protesters waved American and Confederate flags, played music and kept a watchful eye on the statue.
“Defending our monuments. Our statues. Our heritage. Where we come from. We’re here to protect our sheriff and our deputies,” said counter-protester Keith Barham, of Reidsville.
In the middle of both groups, a quick exchange took place between Pastor Wilkes and Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson.
Both agreed they needed to sit down and hear each other out before shaking hands and parting ways. Sheriff Johnson promised Wilkes a meeting would soon take place.
Both groups left the square without much incident.
Drumwright told FOX8 one organizer was arrested for crossing a police barrier as he attempted to hand a program to event speakers.