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Carrboro recognizes town’s history with new truth plaque about namesake Julian Carr

Carrboro Truth Plaque Ceremony
Members of the Carrboro Truth Plaque Task Force and Board of Alderman stand beside the a newly unvieled truth plaque dedicated to bringing light to the origin of Carrboro. The plaque was unvieled Tuesday, April 16, 2019, and details how the town began and how it came to be named Carrboro after Julian S. Carr, a prominent figure in the white supremicist movement and influential industrialist.

Carrboro’s Truth Plaque Community Task Force unveiled its final project Tuesday evening — a ‘truth plaque’ mounted outside Carrboro Town Hall. The plaque gives context to the town’s history and its naming after Julian Carr, the same man who read the dedication speech for Silent Sam.

The task force has been working on the project for nine months, and the final proposal was approved by the Carrboro Board of Aldermen on Feb. 5. The board agreed to fund the plaque up to $5,000, with any leftover funds going to future historical plaque projects.

Board of Aldermen Member Jacquelyn Gist introduced the plaque to a group of residents at its unveiling.

“We’re here today because truth matters, and we live in an era where truth is fluid sometimes, but truth matters,” Gist said.

She added that the aim of the plaque is to tell the history of Carrboro in a way that’s accurate for all town residents, and that the task force stemmed from the Charlottesville protests and ensuing attention on Silent Sam at UNC.

“Telling the truth during an era when there’s a rise in racism and a rise in hatred is even more important,” Gist said.

The plaque traces back to the origins of Carrboro from the late 19th century, when it was unofficially called West End and Lloydville. The town was incorporated and called Venable in 1911, but renamed after Carr two years later.

“He was also an active and influential participant in Jim Crow era efforts to create a system of racial segregation," the plaque reads. "Although the town continues to bear his name, the values and actions of Carr do not represent Carrboro today."

A truth plaque dedicated to bringing light to the origin of Carrboro was unvieled Tuesday, April 16, 2019. The plaque reveals how the town began and how it came to be named Carrboro after Julian S. Carr, a prominent figure in the white supremacist movement and influential industrialist.

Rani Dasi, a Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School board member and member of the task force, read the inscription aloud after it was unveiled and said it was a very special moment for her.

“We learned so much about the history of the town, and it was very community building,” Dasi said.

She added that part of the challenge was learning the history of Carrboro and working together to decide exactly what to highlight on the plaque. 

“We went through a great exercise in community building, and we came out stronger for it,” Gist said in her speech.

This unveiling comes just a week after the board approved a resolution condemning racial intimidation on UNC's campus.

The task force will continue to work on other projects moving forward. While it's considering several options, Gist pointed out it's already identified Swish Car Wash, just down the block from Town Hall, as a potential target. Gist said that location was originally home to the Friedman School, which was founded by Quakers. 

Gist said the task force is open to anyone interested in helping provide context to other historical locations around Carrboro.


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