UNC Commission Proposes Removing 4 Building Names Honoring White Supremacists

Jul 10, 2020

A UNC Chapel Hill commission voted Friday to recommend removing the names of four prominent white supremacists from campus buildings. The resolution will go to university Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and the UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees for consideration.

The History Race, and a Way Forward Commission unanimously passed the resolution to recommend the removal of building names honoring Governor Charles Aycock, Julian Carr, Josephus Daniels and Thomas Ruffin.

UNC education professor and commission member Sherick Hughes said these men were not merely "men of their times" but leaders in white supremacy.

The commission prepared briefs detailing the white supremacist actions taken by each of the men whose names are recommended for removal. 

One brief describes former North Carolina Governor Charles Brantley Aycock as a "chief architect of Jim Crow" in the state, who campaigned on a platform of white supremacy and Black disenfranchisement.

Former News & Observer editor and publisher Josephus Daniels was an instigator of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre who used the newspaper to spread white supremacist propaganda and promote Jim Crow segregation.

Julian Carr helped fund the North Carolina Democratic Party's 1898 white supremacy campaign and was a slaveowner himself. Aycock, Daniels and Carr all supported that campaign that culminated in the Wilmington massacre. Carr famously bragged about beating a Black woman near university grounds in a speech at the dedication of the "Silent Sam" Confederate monument on UNC's campus.

Ruffin Hall was named for Thomas Ruffin and his son. Ruffin was a North Carolina Supreme Court justice who issued a pivotal ruling that protected slaveowners' right to injure or kill enslaved people under their ownership.

UNC history professor and Commission Co-Chair Jim Leloudis called the resolution "a first step," and said the commission will research the names of more than three dozen campus buildings to possibly recommend the removal of other names memorialized on campus. 

UNC's History, Race, and a Way Forward Commission also released its action plan Friday. In addition to building renamings, the commission calls for memorializing Black contributors to the university, including enslaved people buried on campus in unmarked graves. The action plan also supports a proposal for the university to fund an after-school enrichment program for the descendants of people enslaved at the service of UNC.