Supporters, protesters rally at Confederate monument in Graham on 160th anniversary of North Carolina’s secession from Union

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GRAHAM, N.C. (WGHP) — The steps of the courthouse in downtown Graham became the center for dozens of people to gather and celebrate a confederate monument. While others showed detest for the statue that stands in the court square.

The controversy surrounding downtown Graham’s confederate monument drew dozens of people marking what some see as a historic day in North Carolina on May 20, 1861, the day North Carolina seceded from the Union and its involvement in the civil war began.

Thomas May organized the gathering at the monument to recognize the 160th anniversary with a memorial, chants and a speech by H. K. Edgerton, a black man.

“I have just as much right as they do,” May said. “I mean, just because I’m a southern Christian and support the monument, it doesn’t mean I have to be quiet about it.”

On the other side of the monument stood those voicing their opinions on why the statue should be taken down off the pedestal and what it represents to the African American community.

“That is a larger-than-life white man looking over the entire county making sure that we stay in our place,” said protester Toni Autry. “… We really need to unlearn racism. It affects people more than you think.”

Alamance County-native Reverend Greg Drumwright spoke at Graham’s city hall building about equality and the need for change within the city’s justice system.

Both groups voiced their opinion at Thursday’s event on how they feel about the monument.

For now, the monument still stands in Downtown Graham center square, but local activists said the fight for its removal will not stop.

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