The History, Race and a Way Forward Commission discussed updates on the University land acknowledgment, "The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History" and the status of the Barbee Cemetery at their Monday meeting.
Co-chairperson of the commission James Leloudis opened the meeting by discussing updates to the University land acknowledgment.
- The commission has been in contact with Executive Director of North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs Gregory Richardson and Triangle Native American Society member Danny Bell, Leloudis said.
- Leloudis said the commission wants to identify and invite tribal leaders to help draft, review and present the University land acknowledgment to Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.
- The commission is meeting next week with the American Indian Center. They are currently working to schedule a meeting with the First Nations Graduate Circle, Leloudis said.
- The FNGC created a petition last year asking the University for an official land acknowledgment before Indigenous Peoples' Day 2022. The petition has been signed by over 600 people.
- “This certainly seems like a deadline we ought to meet, and in fact, it’s our hope we can get it done before the end of the semester,” Leloudis said.
- The University issued a proclamation in October that it will officially recognize the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples' Day. The proclamation also acknowledged that UNC was built on land originally belonging to Eno, Occaneechi, Shakori and Sissipahaw people.
Commission member and University Archivist Nicholas Graham spoke on the current and future status of "The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History."
- The virtual museum was created in 2006 using temporary funding, Graham said. Once the funding ended, the site was moved to the University Libraries, which was not given the resources to maintain the project, he said.
- Partially as a result of the inactive maintenance, the website is outdated in regards to historical accuracy and other parts of the University's past, Graham said.
- “Even if it’s not completely inaccurate in every case, it's not history that we would stand behind and want to represent here as the history of UNC-Chapel Hill," Graham said.
- Graham proposed the website be archived and republished when content is completely updated. He said the potential update should involve both the commission and University Libraries to identify a new plan that accurately shares campus history.
- Graham proposed hiring a consultant or a consulting firm who is experienced in public history and anti-racism.
Leloudis spoke about the status of the Barbee Cemetery, the burial site for many people who were enslaved in the Chapel Hill area.
- A ground-penetrating radar survey was recently done on the Barbee property in an effort to map the graves and understand the property more comprehensively, he said.
- The committee also discussed potential community roles for descendants of people enslaved in the University area to be involved in the ongoing curation and stewardship of the Barbee property.
- “It seems there's opportunity here for a really meaningful forward step in thinking about how the University stewards that property, and how we together tell the story of the lives of the people who are buried there, and the stories of their descendants in the Chapel-Hill Carrboro community," Leloudis said.
- Leloudis also announced that commission members Seth Kotch and Dawna Jones will be stepping back from their leadership roles in the cemetery committee. The committee will be looking for individuals to take on these positions.
To close the meeting, the commission spoke on the renaming of University buildings with known white supremacist namesakes.
- The commission has recommended the removal of 10 additional building names, the most recent being Ruffin, Jr. Residence Hall and Battle Hall. The Chancellor’s Committee to Review History Commission Resolution discussed renaming in their February meeting.
Who is on the committee?
The University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward advise the chancellor and other University leaders on how to acknowledge the UNC's racist history.
The next History, Race and a Way Forward meeting is March 21 at 3:30 p.m.
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