Education, Higher Ed, race, What's Race Got To Do With It?

UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees votes to remove white supremacist names from buildings

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to remove the names of three white supremacists from buildings on the school’s campus.

The names of Charles B. Aycock, Julian S. Carr and Josephus Daniels will all be removed from the buildings that have long held their names, beginning Wednesday afternoon.

“Aycock, Daniels, and Carr led the Democratic Party’s white supremacy campaigns of 1898 and 1900,” the school’s Commission on History, Race & A Way Forward wrote in its resolution on the issue. “Aycock was a key strategist in both campaigns and ran as the party’s gubernatorial candidate in 1900; Daniels, editor and publisher of the Raleigh News and Observer, served as chief propagandist; and Carr, a Durham industrialist and leader of the United Confederate Veterans in North Carolina, provided financial backing.”

“Together, they fought to disenfranchise black men and to establish the regime of Jim Crow,” the commission wrote. “Which for more than half a century denied black North Carolinians equal justice and the fundamental rights of citizenship

The name of Thomas Ruffin Sr. will also be removed from a building on campus. Ruffin Sr. was a North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice. Known as a particularly cruel enslaver, he used his legal position to ignore legal precedents and grant more power to his fellow enslavers and expand their ability to brutalize enslaved people.

“His ruling in State v. Mann is known as ’the coldest and starkest defense of the physical violence inherent in slavery that ever appeared in an American judicial opinion,’” the Commission on History, Race & A Way Forward wrote in describing his legacy.

A portrait of Ruffin Sr. was recently removed from the historic Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough.

But the building named for him at UNC will still carry the Ruffin name. It was also named for his son, Thomas Ruffin Jr. The trustees found that there wasn’t enough evidence about Ruffin’s son to remove his name, but signs on inside and outside the building will make clear it is named for Thomas Ruffin Jr.

Thomas Ruffin Sr.

Students and faculty quickly criticized that decision, pointing out that historical evidence indicates Thomas Ruffin Jr.  — a Confederate officer and one-term legislator —  also held white supremacist views. He publicly argued for amnesty for Ku Klux Klan members charged with murder in Alamance County in 1873.

Charles B. Aycock was a prominent UNC alumnus and governor of North Carolina whose political career was built on white supremacist rhetoric. Other schools, including UNC-Greensboro, have already removed his name from buildings.

Julian Carr, a wealthy industrialist and UNC trustee, was also Ku Klux Klan member who publicly bragged about beating a black woman during his speech at the dedication of the Silent Sam Confederate monument in 1913. That statue was toppled by protesters in 2018.

Josephus Daniels

Josephus Daniels was publisher of The News & Observer, a position he used to promote white supremacist policies and stoke violence against Black communities in North Carolina. A statue of Daniels was recently removed from Nash Square in downtown Raleigh, where it stood across from the former News & Observer building.

Speaking at Wednesday’s board meeting, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said continuing to honor Aycock, Carr and Daniels threatened the integrity of the university and its goal of creating a diverse, inclusive community.

The men’s views and actions did not merely reflect a different time, Guskiewicz said.

“The actions of these individuals were egregious even for their time,” Guskiewicz said. “and their conduct was central to their careers and lives as a whole. There is no evidence their views moderated or changed in their lifetimes and the accounts of their behavior are supported by documentary evidence.”

New permanent names for the buildings have not yet been announced.

The Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward will continue its work.

“We believe that other names on the landscape warrant action,” the commission wrote in its resolution. “We will make additional recommendations based on archival research and engagement with stakeholders on campus and in the broader community.”

COVID-19, Housing, News, Policing, public health, race, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Experts: “There has to be a shift in how society functions” in wake of pandemic recovery, racial justice movements

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the U.S. economy — shuttering businesses, eliminating jobs and disrupting everything from education to the nation’s food supply chain. But it has been most devastating to Black Americans, who already face a host of historical economic and social disparities that have been highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement even as the country continues to struggle with the worsening pandemic.

On Tuesday a panel of experts gathered by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, its Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and the Institute of African American Research held a virtual discussion of the problems disproportionately facing Black people in the current environment — and possible solutions.

“Talk about us living in a very, very unique time,” said Majestic Lane, deputy chief of staff and chief equity officer for the city of Pittsburgh. “We’re living in essentially 1928, 1918 and 1968 all in the same year, which has never quite happened. How we respond to it is really important. For us, in looking at what’s happening in our community, what’s happened in terms of social unrest as a result of state sanctioned violence and what’s happening as a result of COVID and the impacts of the pandemic really are two sides of the same coin.”

Majestic Lane

The American system disrupted by both the pandemic and mass protests over police violence against Black people was designed to work exactly the way it was working, Lane said. In charting a ‘new normal’ the goal should not be to reconstruct that system, he said, but to address long-standing problems in a system that chose winners and losers based on a legacy of racist ideas and practices.

“There has to be a shift in how society functions,” Lane said.

In Pittsburgh, that’s meant examining very basic assumptions about policing, Lane said. The idea that not every 911 call means police should be sent to the scene may be new to some people, he said. But for those who understand how racist policies in everything from education and banking to health care can see how bringing police into over-policed communities every time there is something like a family argument will likely make situations more dangerous.

In the 2021 budget in Pittsburgh, the city is creating an office of Community Health and Safety. Working with non-profits, the community will work to minimize the presence of police in situations where trained social workers, psychologists or addiction specialists might be a better fit. People in the community who are already trusted and invested will also be utilized in getting to the roots of violent incidents, Lane said.

But there are broader structural challenges as well, Lane said — and they’ve been made even more apparent by the pandemic.

Black people in America have been systemically shut out of the building and maintaining of wealth since before the beginnings of the Republic, said Nikitra Bailey, executive vice president with the Center for Responsible Lending. The current health and financial crises are making that more apparent, she said — and call for a response that takes that into account.

Nikitra Bailey

“Our nation is facing a reckoning over structural racism,” Bailey said. “The inequality it has produced is being exacerbated by the coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic is both a profound public health crisis and an equally profound economic crisis. The virus has devastated families across the nation and has fallen disproportionately on Black families.”

“Systemic discrimination in the housing sector left Black families more vulnerable going into the 2008 housing crisis,” Bailey said. “And that crisis and the response to it left them worse off. This crisis has likewise hit Black families hardest again. And the response so far is not equitable nor is it sufficient.”

The COVID-19 crisis threatens to become a foreclosure crisis in which the Black community has not had the same opportunity to build up home ownership and home equity, Bailey said. They didn’t have the same economic cushion many white families did at the beginning of the pandemic.  That’s due to historical inequities, like Black families being shut out of New Deal programs that gave access to federally supported credit. Those programs led to an explosion of white homeownership, a swelling middle class and generational wealth for white families. Only about 2 percent of the loans available in that period benefitted Black families, she said.

Black families were making ground after the historic homeownership lows of the Great Recession, Bailey said — with Black homeownership reaching 44 percent. But the current COVID-related economic crisis means a tightening in the mortgage market that is requiring much higher down payments and higher credit scores for families to qualify for loans. That threatens to erase the gains of Black homeowners in the country, Bailey said.

Because of the historic and current-day process of racial redlining, most Black communities don’t have as much home equity, Bailey said — something many white homeowners can use to withstand tough economic periods.

For Black homeowners and Black renters (a disproportionately large population), the pandemic is leading to greater dangers.

“There are reports that one in five renters are saying they missed or deferred a rental payment in June, “We know 31 percent of Black renters are reporting this as well, which is twice the rate of white renters. And 13 percent of homeowners overall are saying they’ve needed to defer a mortgage payment and again 23 percent said they missed or deferred their payment, which is twice the rate of white homeowners.”

Congress needs to react accordingly, Bailey said. The CARES act had a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, she said, but that expired last week. With around 23 million families likely to fall behind on their rent, Black families will be hardest hit.

Housing is an important pillar of the overall economy, Bailey said — critical not just to those who are most impacted, but to the entire nation.

“We need the House’s bill, the HEROES act, to be passed in the Senate and we need the President to sign it immediately,” Bailey said. “There is $100 billion of rental assistance in the HEROES act. If that legislation moves, we know that this crisis can be averted. We also need the HEROES provisions around homeownership protection. There’s $75 billion in homeownership protections. We also need those protections to be enacted.”

But beyond those immediate treatments for immediate ills, Bailey said, there needs to be movement on longstanding inequities and systemic racism.

“What we need is a federally guaranteed restorative justice program,” Bailey said, whereby Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac take proactive action to increase Black homeownership and we enforce fair housing and fair lending laws already on the books.

“We have really effective tools in place,” Bailey said. “If we use them we can root out that discrimination that is dragging down the economy overall.”

Education, Higher Ed, race, What's Race Got To Do With It?

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hamilton Hall may soon become Pauli Murray Hall

Weeks after UNC-Chapel Hill lifted its moratorium on the re-naming of buildings, Hamilton Hall may soon become Pauli Murray Hall.

This week the chairs of the school’s departments of History, Political Science, Sociology and the Peace, War and Defense Curriculum requested the change though the newly established Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward.

Photo courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill Department of History

The building now known as Hamilton Hall is named for Joseph Grégoire de Roulhac Hamilton, a professor whose writings on the Civil War and reconstruction were nakedly white supremacist.

A passage from his 1914 book Reconstruction in North Carolina praises the Ku Klux Klan’s role in restoring government to the white race:

Called into existence by this state of affairs, the Ku Klux lifted the South from its slough of despond by the application of illegal force which overthrew Reconstruction and ultimately restored political power to the white race . . . Heart had been put into the despairing whites and a revolution had been wrought through its operations, or, to be more exact, the results of a revolution had been overthrown and a form of government, wickedly, illegally, and unconstitutionally imposed upon the people, had come into the hands of the class best fitted to administer government, and the supremacy of the white race and of Anglo-Saxon institutions was secure.”

Pauli Murray was a black descendent of one of the original UNC-Chapel Hill trustees, James Strudwick Smith. Denied admission to the school’s Ph.D program in sociology because of her race, she none-the-less went on to become an outspoken attorney, activist and scholar. She was also the first Black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.

Pauli Murray, courtesy of The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe, Harvard University

“Our motivation for renaming the building is rooted in the history of our University and Professor Hamilton’s role in shaping it for the benefit of white supremacy,” the department heads wrote in a press release Friday. “Ample evidence of this history can be found in the brief submitted to us by our building-wide committee tasked with evaluating this decision.”

“Pauli Murray represents the immutable spirit of scholarship and public service, and she represents the forgone knowledge that UNC could have been a part of, could have supported and nurtured, and could have learned from,” the department heads wrote. “Naming our building after her will serve as a reminder of what was lost, what could have been, and what can be as we move forward.”

Education, News, race, What's Race Got To Do With It?

E(race)ing Inequities | How race impacts everything from teacher experience, to student discipline, to access to gifted programs

With a new school year just around the corner, lawmakers, educators and parents should make time to read the thought-provoking new report “E(race)ing Inequities: The State of Racial Equity in North Carolina Public Schools” by the Center for Racial Equity in Education (CREED).

Policy Watch sat down last week to discuss the findings with James E. Ford, who is the executive director of CREED as well as a State Board of Education member and former NC Teacher of the Year.

In our extended interview, Ford explains why it’s time for another candid talk about race, and why North Carolina must adopt racial equity as a stated goal for our public school system.

If you don’t have time to read the full report. Here are seven takeaways from Ford and co-author Nicholas Triplett that merit further discussion:

 

  • Student groups of color had a higher likelihood of being taught by a novice [teacher] as compared to their White counterparts when controlling for gender, free/reduced lunch status, language status, and special education status.
  • Student groups of color were also far less likely to be in classes with a teacher of the same race/ethnicity.
  • Students of color were strongly over-represented within the districts/LEAs with the highest teacher turnover and vacancy rates.
  • Given the powerful influence that teachers have on virtually all measures of educational success, our results provide evidence that students of color in North Carolina have less access to the highly qualified, experienced, stable, and diverse teachers that are likely to provide them with the best chance of school success.
  • Not only are American Indian, Black, and Multiracial students over-represented generally in the incidence of both in-school and out-of-school suspensions, they appear to be the disproportionate recipients of suspensions involving subjective offenses and receive harsher forms of discipline (OSS vs. ISS) at higher rates. Furthermore, Black students receive longer suspensions on average than any other student group.
  • To give a sense of the magnitude of the racial discipline gap in the state, if Black students had been given out-of-school suspension (OSS) at the state average rate, almost 30,000 fewer Black students would have experienced OSS during the 2016-2017 school year.
  • The under-exposure of student groups of color in gifted and talented programs has the potential to diminish their long-term educational attainment, postsecondary participation, and professional achievements.

Learn more about the history of race and education in North Carolina in CREED‘s  “Deep Rooted” companion report.

Higher Ed, News, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Study: College students prefer free tuition to prestigious degrees

A new study released this week gives some interesting insights into college students’ views on the rising cost of tuition and the value of degrees from prestigious universities.

College Pulse conducted the poll of 8,887 students currently attending four-year colleges or universities across the United States.

One of its most interesting findings: 67 percent of college students would prefer “free tuition at a university nobody has heard of” to “full tuition at a prestigious university.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the answers reveal interesting sociological layers when broken down by race and ethnicity.

Black students were most likely (74 percent) to say they would prefer free tuition at an unknown university to full tuition at a prestigious one. White and Latinx students both said they preferred free tuition at about 67 percent. Native American or American Indian students preferred the idea of free tuition at 56 percent and Asian respondents 49 percent.

The study comes as the cost of tuition — and college loan forgiveness — has become a major issue in the Democratic primary for president.

It’s also an issue with which the UNC system and UNC Board of Governors has been struggling the last few  years.

Studies have shown that tuition hikes reduce diversity at universities.

When the N.C. legislature approved dropping tuition at some UNC schools to $500 a semester last year, there were a lot of concerns – lost revenue, the perceived value of a degree, what it would mean for the schools’ reputations to suddenly and explicitly become “value” universities.

Two historically black colleges – including Winston-Salem State and Fayetteville State – opted out.

At the three universities that ultimately became part of the initial NC Promise tuition program –  Elizabeth City State UniversityUniversity of North Carolina at Pembroke and  Western Carolina University  – there are still concerns among some students, faculty, staff and even administrators.

UNC-Pembroke Chancellor Robert Gary Cumming has praised the program.