Eric Andrews on the Confederate Statue Removal in Pittsboro

On August 19, 2019, Chatham County commissioners voted to remove the Confederate statue “Our Confederate Heroes” at the Pittsboro courthouse. Since then Pittsboro has seen protesters with Confederate flags and counter-protesters as well. It is a complex issue that Eric Andrews wanted to weigh in on, along with his thoughts on the Confederate flag across from Horton Middle School.

Speaker 1:           Should the statue near the courthouse come down?

Speaker 2:           I would rather you ask me about where the next Chick-fil-A is going to be in our city.

Speaker 1:           People are very excited about this.

Speaker 2:           People are very excited about this. So, usually I don’t get into controversial subjects like this, but the bottom line is yes, the statute should be removed from its current location and I have an explanation as to why. Not everybody will agree with it, and I’m no authority or anything, but I just have my personal beliefs and I wanted to share them.

So I came here in the nineties as a football coach and things were so, so much different in the nineties. And it was right here at Northwood High School. And my first week there coaching, I think I’m doing a good job, helping the kids out, and I get called into the office by the athletic director and the principal. And athletic director’s riding my ass and said, “Andrews, what the hell’s going on?” I’m like, “What do you mean?” And they’re like, “We got 11 parents say you’re a racist.” I’m like, “What the hell? I’m not a, I don’t think I’m a racist. How I got 11 parents?” And then the principal looks at me and he goes, “Yep. Six black parents, five white parents, all think you’re a racist.” He said, “Good job.”

You know, so, but it’s just, I don’t think I realized all the sensitivities that there were. And then that first year of coaching, we go to a neighboring county, Davidson County, and I’m coaching. That’s my first year. I’m just coaching JV. I’m not coaching Varsity. And those guys at that high school, it was a predominant, it was an all white school. And our team was about half black and they don’t let us into the locker room to change. They make our kids change in the parking lot. I’m like, “Holy shit.” I mean, you know, I just didn’t think in this day and age, we still went through that. And that, like I said, that was back in the nineties. And so that was very eye opening to me.

And I’ve been very fortunate, in this county, as far as real estate is concerned, I have a lot of African American clients and it might be for my coaching days. It might be because of just the friends and affiliations that I have. But for whatever reason, I’m blessed. A lot of African African Americans in this county use me to help them with real estate. And so I have conversations with them about this statute and they basically say, “We don’t give a damn about that statute.” You know, there’s really, and so the criticism is that it’s outsiders. It’s a couple people out of Fearrington and Governor’s Club, and a couple hippies out of Carbro that are causing all this hoopla. And it wasn’t an issue to the African American community. And, yeah, there, I mean, I don’t think they were the start of this uproar or this controversy, but, I mean, Pittsboro is our county seat.

So, and it is the capital of our county and the center of Pittsburgh is that circle, and in the middle of that circle is that statue. And so this is our axis mundi. This is our focal point of the whole county and axis mundi is the core center focus of your beliefs and philosophies. And I understand heritage, and I understand people respecting history, and you can’t erase history, but when I sell real estate to people and they’re at our front door, they are the people that come from other places to look at that statue. And it’s a Confederate statue. He’s armed. He’s facing north. He’s standing in front of the courthouse door. You know, I mean that, there’s some powerful symbolism there. So I don’t think it should be destroyed, but I definitely believe it needs to be moved.

I mean, the real estate sales that we have are from outsiders. I mean, there are people coming from elsewhere. They’re moving here. And that’s not to mean that the people that have lived here for a long time, shouldn’t be honored and respected, but it’s just a little, it’s a little much for us to take right now. And I do think it going elsewhere would be a good sign. They’ve talked about having a lynching memorial there. And again, some- I hate to like, this isn’t any kind of grand poll or whatever, but the African American friends that I have, they don’t want to see a lynching statue there either, because I think that perpetuates some of the anger and hurtful feelings and I don’t think it would cause a lot of healing. So I don’t want to see something like that there and I don’t think that would help the county.

But then we get into the situation where these flags are popping up and we have Confederate flags that are popping up in around Pittsboro. And I’m a Libertarian and I taught civics and I’m a firm believer of free speech. And if you really, really embrace free speech, you have to condone. I mean, you have to allow the KKK having a parade downtown. That’s horrible. I don’t agree with it. But if you’re really about free speech, all free speech, and Confederate flags going up, or is a manner of free speech. I don’t like it. It hurts business. I think it’s retaliatory. They’re like, “You take down our statute. This is what we’re doing.” And I think it escalates things. But at the end of the day, I do think that’s a free speech issue.

I wish they weren’t here in our town. The one across the street from Horton is reprehensible to me. I mean, people talk about the statue being a symbol of intimidation. That’s an argument, whether or not. To have that Confederate flag across the street from little kids at a middle school I think is intimidating and that you might have the right to do it, but that’s just so wrong. I mean, I can’t imagine. My daughter went to Horton and I can’t imagine having that conversation and trying to explain to her why that’s happening. I can’t imagine having an African American child and having to explain that flag. So I’m fine. I’m fine with free speech, but that’s over the line right there. The Horton flag has gone too far in my book.