Last week, The Daily Tar Heel reported that the plaque dedicating Kenan Memorial Stadium to the violent white supremacist William R. Kenan, Sr. had been covered up with a large UNC logo.
Why does this matter?
Last year, former Chancellor Carol Folt announced that the University would recontextualize the stadium to instead focus on Kenan’s son, William R. Kenan, Jr. This allowed them to sidestep the 16-year moratorium that the Board of Trustees imposed on renaming campus buildings back in 2015.
But rather than adding context to or removing the plaque, the dedication was simply obscured by the UNC logo in what the University referred to as a “temporary fix.”
The University's History Task Force was assigned to the Kenan Stadium project, but the group’s latest news update on its website was on Oct. 12, 2018, The Daily Tar Heel reported.
This is the latest installment in an ongoing series of UNC's attempts to cover up its racist past.
The University itself is built on white supremacy. The names of approximately 30 buildings on UNC’s campus have ties to white supremacy, past yearbooks show brothers of Chi Phi wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and blackface and the University routinely fails to recognize the role of civil rights activists in fighting Black oppression and segregation in Chapel Hill.
We can’t erase our past — but what we can do is learn from it. Our history informs our present, and we need to be intentional about acknowledging who we were in order to change who we are. Centuries of institutional racism have resulted in profound and irrevocable harm to communities of color. But the University has failed to truly reckon with it, despite many half-hearted attempts to do so.
So much of UNC’s legacy is thanks to the Black community, from the slaves who helped build this campus 229 years ago to the Black athletes who play for its beloved basketball team. The University owes the Black community so much more than a souped-up UNC logo slapped on top of the name of a man responsible for the massacre of at least 25 Black individuals. It’s just a Band-Aid fix — literally — to a much bigger issue.