The sign discusses Hurston and her time at the University, as well as explaining how the building used to be named Saunders Hall after William Saunders, a leader of the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan.
“We honor and remember all the African American students who studied at UNC unofficially before our University’s integration. Zora Neale Hurston was one of these students,” the sign says.
“Against all odds, and despite a system that did everything in its power to keep her from attending college, she went on to become one of America’s most celebrated authors.”
The University does not know who placed the sign on the building, but they will be removing it.
“The sign is being removed because it’s in violation of our Facilities Use policy that prohibits any sign to be posted or hung on the outside of buildings or other campus-facing surfaces without University approval,” Allison Reid, executive director for communications and marketing in the UNC Division of Finance and Administration, said in an email.
Reid said she did not know when the sign would be removed.
Altha Cravey, a geography professor who works in Carolina Hall, said she was thrilled when she heard about the sign.
“Today I was just walking on air when I — late in the day, when I saw on social media the new plaque. And I ran downstairs to see if it was really there, and I saw that it was really there. And I was so excited,” Cravey said.
The building was renamed Carolina Hall in 2015 and a 16-year moratorium on name changes to University buildings was put in place by the Board of Trustees.
The Real Silent Sam Coalition, a student organization at UNC, protested the name Saunders and proposed Hurston Hall in its place.
“Their proposal was not accepted by the Board of Trustees. Name changes to any buildings on campus were then forbidden until 2031,” the sign from Tuesday says.
The Real Silent Sam Coalition released a statement in 2015 protesting the name change to Carolina Hall.
"‘Carolina Hall’ is a sugar-coating of Saunders Hall updated for the aesthetics of 21st-century white supremacy: color blindness and multicultural diversity,” the statement said. “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.”
Cravey said she was impressed with the work students did and are still doing.
“I think it’s just such important work and students have just really driven that work and students have done that tirelessly, especially this last round,” she said.