UNC Board of Trustees vote to remove names of Aycock, Daniels, Carr and Ruffin from campus buildings

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020
UNC to remove Aycock, Daniels and Carr names from buildings
UNC to remove Aycock, Daniels and Carr names from buildings

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- The University of North Carolina Board of Trustees voted 11-2 Wednesday to remove the names of Charles Aycock, Josephus Daniels, Thomas Ruffin Sr. and Julian Carr from campus buildings for their ties to white supremacy

RELATED: UNC Board of Trustees votes to lift 16-year moratorium on renaming campus buildings

In June, the board voted to lift a 16-year freeze on renaming school buildings.

The moratorium was put in place on May 28, 2015 following the change of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall.

In February, a group of professors petitioned UNC to end the ban on renaming campus buildings.

Aycock Hall will be referred to as Residence Hall 1, according to Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

Ruffin Hall is named for Thomas Ruffin Sr. and will be temporarily named for Thomas Ruffin Jr., with all ties to Ruffin Sr. being removed from the building.

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Josephus Daniels Student Stores will just be named Student Stores while the Carr Building will become the Student Affairs Building.

Carr was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1913, he delivered a speech littered with racism during a dedication ceremony for Silent Sam, a Confederate monument recently removed from campus.

Charles Aycock was a former North Carolina Governor who ran on a campaign of white supremacy, which led to the disenfranchisement of the African American vote in the early 1900s.

Josephus Daniels was a former publisher of the News & Observer. He used the paper to promote white supremacy. Daniels and the News & Observer were cited in a government report as being directly involved with the Wilmington Massacre of 1898.

Thomas Ruffin Sr. was a 19th century North Carolina Supreme Court Justice who was a slave owner and supported the abuse of slaves in his rulings.

"The actions of these individuals were egregious, even for their time. And their conduct was central to their careers and lives as a whole. There's no evidence that their views moderated or changed in their lifetimes," said Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

The Chancellor announced the formation of a the University Commission on History, Race, and a Way Forward in January; it has since grown and added student members.

"If we kept these names on our buildings, I believe we'd jeopardize our integrity and impede our mission of teaching research and service to all North Carolinians. Continuing to honor these men is antithetical toward our work to building a diverse and inclusive community," Guskiewicz said.

The Commission plans to review nearly three dozen other names on campus over the next few years.

"Having those names on buildings and others in the landscape certainly has been in some ways have been creating a climate that is harmful to people in terms of trying to walk on campus and see themselves as part of the university community," said Co-Chair Patricia Parker, who also serves as the Chair of the Department of Communication at UNC.

"These names that are causing problems today were almost all attached to buildings in the second decade of the 20th century. And it's very clear that they were part of a much larger project that reached beyond the university to rehabilitate slavery," said Co-Chair Jim Leloudis, who also serves as a Professor of History and the Associate Dean of Honors Carolina.

Leloudis believes providing contextualization, such as in the form of a plaque, while keeping the names on the building would not accomplish much.

"We're not judging them by the standards of the present, but really judging them by the standards of their own time," Leloudis said, explaining there was marked opposition to slavery dating back hundreds of years

"The problem is that this sort of celebration of these men over time has largely erased memory any of (their racist viewpoints and acts). So in that sense we're not erasing history. I think what we're trying to do is try and compensate for a longstanding erasure and provide a more honest and complete account of the history of the university, the state of North Carolina, and for that matter the United States," Leloudis said.

Parker believed the decisions would help create a more fostering environment on-campus.

"As Congressman John Lewis said, 'If you see something, you do something. And to right the wrongs that we face,'" said Parker, who called the board's vote 'extraordinary.'