UNC-Chapel Hill asking for new names for buildings named for white supremacists

Demonstrators protesting buildings named for slave owners and white supremacists on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Last year UNC-Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees lifted the self-imposed moratorium on renaming buildings on campus, allowing the school to address decades of pressure from students, faculty and community members to replace the names of slave owners and white supremacists. Now, the school is looking to rename three buildings before students return for the Fall semester in August.

In a message to the campus late last week, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz issued an open call for new names.

“We have previously received names for consideration which are included in our Honorific Naming Registry and we invite you to submit additional names,” Guskiewicz said. “We will keep this process open for a two-week period, closing the registry at 5 p.m. on April 9. The committee will receive all submitted names and conduct an initial vetting process to narrow a list of possible options to six names for consideration. I will consider those names for submission to our Board of Trustees.”

Guskiewicz laid out criteria for the new names, saying they should:

  • Represent the values that define our University: excellence and an unwavering commitment to teaching, research and public service.
  • Have traditionally been underrepresented on our landscape.
  • Have a demonstrated positive impact on our campus and in our community.

 

The buildings at issue are the Aycock Residence Hall, the Carr Building and  the Daniels Building.

The Aycock Residence Hall was named for Charles B. Aycock, the white supremacist governor of North Carolina from 1901 to 1905. In his famous speech “The Negro Problem” Aycock set out his explicit segregationist and white supremacist views.

“I am proud of my State…because there we have solved the negro problem,” Aycock said. “We have taken him out of politics and have thereby secured good government under any party and laid foundations for the future development of both races. We have secured peace, and rendered prosperity a certainty.”

The Carr building was named for Julian Carr, a UNC alum and industrialist who supported the Ku Klux Klan and celebrated lynchings, including the 1898 Wilmington Massacre. Carr gave a speech at the 1913 installation of the Silent Sam Confederate monument on the UNC campus in which he bragged he once “horse-whipped a negro wench” in public for disrespecting a white woman and praised Confederate soldiers for saving “the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South.”

The Daniels building, which houses a student store, was named for Josephus Daniels.Daniels, a former publisher of Raleigh’s News & Observer newspaper, was a prominent white supremacist who used the paper’s influence to promote racist policies. Infamously, he stoked racial hatred that helped lead to the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, in which white supremacists killed at least 60 Black Wilmington residents while overthrowing the town’s elected mixed-race government.

Last year Daniels’ family voluntarily removed his 8-foot statue from its place in Nash Square in downtown Raleigh, where it overlooked the former News & Observer building.

“This is an exciting time for our University as we celebrate and remember the people who have pushed our University forward by serving its people and our mission,” Guskiewicz said in his message. “In doing so, we are taking concrete steps to build our community together. I am grateful for the students, faculty and staff who have advocated for change. I am confident that we will have plenty of worthy honorees who have been instrumental in our shared history.”

Policy Watch will continue to follow the renaming process for these and other buildings on UNC System campuses.

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