CORRECTION: A previous version of this article confused the Commission on History, Race and Reckoning with the Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward, created by interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz in November. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
Less than a month after it was covered with the University’s logo, a dedication plaque at Kenan Memorial Stadium has been quietly removed.
The dedication plaque honored William Rand Kenan Sr. – the commander of a white supremacist unit that killed at least 25 Black individuals in the Wilmington Massacre of 1898. Kenan Stadium was named after Kenan Sr. at the request of his son, William Rand Kenan Jr.
“The plaque was removed a couple of days after the last home football game,” Leslie Minton, associate director of media relations at the University, said in an email to the DTH.
She said the University removed it as part of a "larger process," and no further information was provided.
The University announced last year that, after discussions with the Kenan family, it would rededicate the stadium to the younger Kenan. Kenan Jr. left the University $95 million when he passed away.
The University originally covered the dedicatory section of the plaque with its logo, deeming it a “temporary fix” in an Oct. 5 statement. At the time, the University did not say when a permanent solution would be implemented.
Despite the removal of the plaque, some students believe the University is trying to gloss over a problem instead of solving it altogether.
“Removing a plaque isn’t enough,” James Sadler, a graduate student and campus activist said in an email to the DTH. “Getting rid of the Kenan name as a whole would have been a start, instead of masquerading and pretending like honoring a murderer’s son who’s life and wealth benefitted from his father’s actions, is any better.”
Calvin Deutschbein, a graduate student, public artist and activist, agreed.
He said that, while he is happy that the statue is gone, he would’ve liked an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and an attempt at reconciliation with the people adversely affected.
“I think, as I’m glad that this changed, I wish that the opportunity hadn’t been wasted by the people that have the power and the ability to actually do something positive with this opportunity,” Deutschbein said. “And that’s frustrating.”
Sadler said there are at least 28 buildings and locations on campus that have names with ties to racism, including Kenan Stadium.
He said that the removal of the dedication plaque from Kenan Stadium is unsurprising and consistent with the University’s refusal to acknowledge its history.
“If Kevin Guskiewicz actually acted upon all the flowing language he speaks about UNC’s mission and opposition to racism, he would work towards funding Black and Brown students, staff and faculty, and work towards real reparations for UNC, an institution built on the backs of enslaved Black people,” Sadler said.
Guskiewicz will soon appoint a commission to replace former Chancellor Carol Folt's History Task Force.
The University has not announced what, if anything, will replace the signage.
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