UNC – Chapel Hill is celebrating the university’s 225th birthday at University Day on Friday.
During Chancellor Carol Folt’s opening remarks, she addressed the long history of the university, including the indigenous people of the area and the use of slaves to build much of the university.
Folt issued a formal apology on behalf of the university for UNC’s role in the “profound injustices” of slavery.
Folt said that the university’s work must go beyond an apology to lead to purposeful action and build on actions of those who fought so hard for what UNC values today.
UNC has been working to contextualize the history of the campus. The university renamed Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall in 2015. The building had previously been named for William L. Saunders, who was a secretary of state in North Carolina after serving as an officer in the Confederacy during the Civil War and was purportedly a leader in the Ku Kux Klan in North Carolina.
History professor and co-chair of the university’s History Task Force Jim Leloudis addressed the crowd Friday morning detailing historical markers that will be placed on McCorkle Place to celebrate indigenous people and express contrition over university’s role in slavery.
Unrest has focused in recent years on Silent Sam, the Confederate monument on the Chapel Hill campus. Protesters pulled the statue down from its pedestal in August. Folt and the campus Board of Trustees have a mid-November deadline to develop a plan on the “disposition and preservation” of the monument and present that plan to the UNC System Board of Governors.