Followed by the music of Nina Simone, student activists called for the end of white supremacy on UNC’s campus.
Students gathered on the steps of the currently named Carolina Hall to hold an opening ceremony for Hurston Hall, the name activists have been pushing for since last year.
During the summer, the UNC Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the building from Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall and issued a 16-year moratorium on renaming historic buildings, despite activists' efforts calling for the building to be named after Zora Neale Hurston.
"'Carolina Hall' is a sugar-coating of Saunders Hall updated for the aesthetics of 21st-century white supremacy: color blindness and multicultural diversity," said the statement released by the Real Silent Sam Coalition after the decision to rename the building. "This isn’t justice, it’s pageantry. We named this building after Zora Neale Hurston precisely because racist and sexist admissions policies excluded her and other Black women from UNC.”
Friday’s event began with senior June Beshea reading out the released statement.
“We will not honor William Saunders, an architect of white supremacy. Nor will we honor 'Carolina Hall,' because neutrality is white supremacy in disguise,” Beshea read.
After Beshea, other students came to the mic and read quotes from Hurston from some of her essays and publications.
After quotes were read, the floor was opened to any students who wanted to share.
Shelby Dawkins-Law, a third year PhD student in the School of Education, took the stage to speak about her experiences as the President of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation.