CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Wilmington Massacre was authorized in advance by former North Carolina Governor Daniel Russell. Gov. Russell did not authorize the massacre. He was in opposition to the massacre, and was almost assassinated by those associated with the rioters. The story has been updated with the correct information about Russell. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
Around thirty UNC academic and residence buildings have names tied to white supremacy — but it doesn't stop there.
Kenan Memorial Stadium is named after William Rand Kenan Sr., the commander of a white supremacist unit that murdered at least 25 Black people in the Wilmington Massacre of 1898.
Many think Kenan Stadium is named after Kenan’s son, William Rand Kenan Jr., a businessman, philanthropist and UNC graduate who left most of his $95 million fortune to UNC when he died. After a large donation, he requested the stadium be named to memorialize his parents. The stadium's plaque memorializing them makes no mention of Kenan’s involvement in the massacre.
Taking place on Nov. 10, 1898, the Wilmington Massacre was a coup planned by a white militia which killed anywhere from 60 to 300 Black residents, destroyed many Black-owned businesses and chased the majority of Black residents and politicians out of town. The militia also overthrew the local government, to replace the Black and white leaders from the Fusionist and Republican parties, with white democrats.
Craig Calcaterra, NBC reporter, published an article last week which revealed for many Kenan Sr.’s involvement in these horrific events. Calcaterra wrote the events were long referred to as “The Wilmington Race Riot,” to falsely portray the day as a violent uprising of Black rioters stopped by white citizens. The massacre was led by a former Confederate officer named Alfred Waddell.
In her book, “A Day of Blood: The 1898 Wilmington Race Riot,” LeRae Umfleet wrote the machine gun squad led by William Rand Kenan Sr. was capable of firing 420 bullets per minute. Eyewitnesses reported the unit killed 25 Black people within seconds at the intersection of Sixth and Brunswick streets. As with the entire massacre, the exact number of people murdered by Kenan is unknown due to the white leaders getting rid of the bodies and Black witnesses fleeing town.
Harry Watson, a UNC history professor, said Kenan later wrote proudly about his involvement in the massacre in a memoir, but the connection between Kenan and the massacre didn’t catch on — and most people still don't know the story.
"(The massacre) is not taught in schools, it was basically erased from the North Carolina history textbooks or extremely minimized,” Watson said.