UNC leader apol­o­gizes for school’s his­tory of slav­ery

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - REMEMBERING -

RALEIGH, N.C. — The chan­cel­lor of North Carolina’s flag­ship pub­lic univer­sity apol­o­gized Fri­day for the school’s his­tory of slav­ery, adding that words alone are not enough to atone for us­ing enslaved peo­ple to build and main­tain the cam­pus.

“As chan­cel­lor of the Univer­sity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I of­fer our univer­sity’s deep­est apol­ogy for the pro­found in­jus­tices of slav­ery, our full ac­knowl­edg­ment of the strength of enslaved peo­ples in the face of their suf­fer­ing, and our re­spect and in­debt­ed­ness to them,” Chan­cel­lor Carol Folt said dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion of the school’s 225th an­niver­sary. “And I reaf­firm our univer­sity’s com­mit­ment to fac­ing squarely and work­ing to right the wrongs of his­tory so they’re never again in­flicted.”

UNC-Chapel Hill ad­mit­ted its first stu­dents in 1795, just 19 years af­ter the United States was founded, mak­ing it the first pub­lic univer­sity in the United States to open its doors. That’s a “unique legacy,” Folt said.

“Our apol­ogy must lead to pur­pose­ful ac­tion, and it has to build upon the great ef­forts and sac­ri­fices of so many across the years who fought so hard for much of what we value about Carolina to­day,” Folt said

The chan­cel­lor presided over the Univer­sity Day cer­e­mony, which marks the lay­ing of the corner­stone of Old East, the na­tion’s first pub­lic univer­sity build­ing, in 1793.

The apol­ogy comes as

Folt and other school of­fi­cials must de­cide whether to re­store the Con­fed­er­ate statue known as Silent Sam to its orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion in the cam­pus’ main quad af­ter pro­test­ers top­pled it Aug. 20. The UNC board of gov­er­nors has set a Nov. 15 dead­line for Folt and cam­pus trus­tees to de­velop a plan for the statue’s “dis­po­si­tion and preser­va­tion.”

His­tory pro­fes­sor James Leloudis, who also spoke at the cer­e­mony, de­tailed the school’s plans for signs and ed­u­ca­tional mark­ers in McCorkle Place, where the base of Silent Sam now sits empty. Leloudis, co-chair of the Chan­cel­lor’s Task Force of UNC-Chapel Hill’s His­tory, said those plans in­clude:

♦ signs to ac­knowl­edge the indige­nous peo­ple who “were the first stew­ards of this land, and whose de­scen­dants work, study and teach here to­day”;

♦ a marker near the Un­sung Founders Memo­rial that “will ex­press the Univer­sity’s deep con­tri­tion for its role in the in­jus­tices of slav­ery and in­vite vis­i­tors to join us in re­search­ing and re­cov­er­ing the full hu­man­ity of the enslaved men and women who built so much of the early Univer­sity and sus­tained it”; and

♦ re­pair and ren­o­va­tion of the Un­sung Founders Memo­rial site, which also is lo­cated in McCorkle Place and is ded­i­cated to “The Peo­ple Of Color Bound And Free — Who Helped Build The Carolina That We Cher­ish To­day.”

Ear­lier this month, the school said it will change the name on a plaque at Ke­nan Memo­rial Sta­dium so it no longer hon­ors a man who par­tic­i­pated in white ri­ots against blacks in Wilm­ing­ton in 1898. The plaque will honor Wil­liam Rand Ke­nan Jr. in­stead of his fa­ther, Wil­liam Rand Ke­nan Sr.

And in 2015, UNC trus­tees re­named Wil­liam Saun­ders Hall as Carolina Hall af­ter protests about Saun­ders’ Ku Klux Klan mem­ber­ship.

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