History, Race and a Way Forward commission discusses upcoming building openings

The University Commission on History, Race, and the Way Forward has shared the next steps for the campus building renaming dedication event for the McClinton Residence Hall and the Henry Owl Building.

The commission also discussed the Unsung Founders Memorial webinar series, Barbee Cemetery and potential recognition of University lands during Monday’s meeting.

What’s new?

Commission members also spoke about their work on an equity initiative that focuses on area schools. The program has two components – an enrichment program and an undergraduate course.

  • Commission member and seventh-generation Chapel Hillian Danita Mason-Hogans said the enrichment program, called Joyful Education for the Descendants of the Enslaved, will be a program with after-school and summer opportunities in partnership with the University and other campus groups.
  • Simona Goldin, a commissioner and associate research professor at UNC, said she was offering a course for the initiative called “Education in a Multicultural Society.” It was recently accepted and will be offered in the fall of 2022 as a freshman seminar within the Department of Public Policy.
    • Goldin taught a similar course at the University of Michigan School of Education, where she was previously a lecturer in educational studies.
    • “The idea of ​​the class is to engage freshmen who come right here to this campus to really think systematically about the institution of public education,” Goldin said.
    • Goldin said students will use what they learn about the national education enterprise to apply to the Chapel Hill context. She imagines that the final project will be an educational reform policy analysis project.
  • The commission then reviewed the progress of the “Unsung Founders Memorial: Past and Present” webinar series.
    • Commission co-chair Patricia Parker said the commission has held one webinar and another community conversation so far.
    • The webinar was a discussion session on the memorial and its conceptualization. The second event was a conversation about what comes next for the memorial.
    • Since then, the commission has also reached out to Angela Thorpe, director of the NC African American Heritage Commission, to lend her expertise to these conversations.
    • Parker said the commission hopes to include Thorpe in community conversations in the near future.
  • There were no new updates on Barbee Cemetery for this meeting, co-chair Jim Leloudis said. Barbee Cemetery honors approximately 100 slaves.
    • Leloudis said a penetrating radar survey of the cemetery began a few weeks ago. The commission expects to have a full update on the investigation when it meets again in April.
  • Leloudis said he and Parker had a series of conversations with Danny Bell, a member of the Triangle Native American Society, leaders of the First Nations Graduate Circle, and with colleagues at the UNC American Indian Center, regarding potential land recognition. by the University. He said they had started to think about the proposed wording for this.
    • “And what a land acknowledgment should include far beyond just a set of words, recommendations that will also be behind this to ensure that this land acknowledgment makes a difference in this community over time,” said said Leloudis.
    • He said the American Indian Center volunteered to organize an opportunity for the commission to speak with undergraduate students who are part of the Carolina Indian Circle.

The chancellor’s committee appointed to review the commission’s recommendations to rename 10 buildings on campus is still ongoing.

  • “I understand they’re aiming to have something with the chancellor before the May board meeting,” Leloudis said.
  • He said he was unaware of the status of the renaming of the UNC Student Stores building, which is a separate process.
  • The James Cates Remembrance Coalition sent a proposal in June to rename the student stores building after James Lewis Cates Jr. Beginning in the fall semester, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz sent the proposal to the BOT.

The official building renaming dedications for the McClinton Residence and the Henry Owl Building will take place on Friday, May 13, Parker said. The time will be announced soon.

  • “Hopefully we will have other events leading up to this,” she said.

Leloudis said it’s time for the commission to start planning for a national conference to be held in the spring of 2023, a conference that will be similar to the University of Virginia’s National Conference on Race and Ethnicity. The AVU conference aims to provide education on issues of race and ethnicity in higher education.

What is the purpose of the committee?

The University Commission on History, Race, and the Way Forward advises the chancellor and other university leaders on how to acknowledge UNC’s racist history. The commission focuses on the following areas: archives, history and conservation; curriculum development and instruction; and commitment, ethics, and reckoning, according to its website.


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