UNC Renames Building That Honored Ku Klux Klan LeaderBreaking News
The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees voted 10-3 Thursday to rename Saunders Hall “Carolina Hall,” stripping the name of William Saunders, a UNC graduate and trustee who was purported to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 19th Century.
The vote came after about a year of deliberation since student activists demanded a name change for Saunders. Protesters stood by with signs calling the building “Hurston Hall,” their preferred new name that would have honored African American writer Zora Neale Hurston.
Calling Thursday’s action a comprehensive solution, the trustees voted unanimously on two other resolutions – a 16-year freeze on the renaming of other buildings, and a broad effort to curate UNC’s history with accurate markers and the possibility of a public space on campus to house a permanent historical collection. Campus task forces will begin to work on those issues, including the idea of an online orientation program for students to learn about UNC’s history.
Trustees said they struggled with the controversial issue, and some who voted for the change said they were initially inclined not to erase a piece of history from the university landscape. But they said the trustees who named the building for Saunders in 1920 erred in that decision – that board had specifically cited Saunders as “head of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina” as a qualification for naming the classroom building for him.
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