The University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward shared the next action steps on the campus building renaming dedication event for McClinton Residence hall and the Henry Owl Building.
The commission also discussed the Unsung Founders Memorial webinar series, Barbee Cemetery and the University's prospective land acknowledgment at Monday's meeting.
Commission members also spoke about their work on an equity initiative that focuses on schools in the area. The program includes two components — an enrichment program and an undergraduate course.
- Commission member and seventh-generation Chapel HillianDanita Mason-Hogans said the enrichment program, called Joyful Education for the Descendants of the Enslaved, will be a program with after school and summer opportunities in partnership with the University and other campus groups.
- Commission member Simona Goldin, a research associate professor at UNC, said she proposed a course for the initiative called "Education in a Multicultural Society." It was recently accepted and will be offered in fall 2022 as a first-year seminar within the Department of Public Policy.
- Goldin taught a similar course at the University of Michigan School of Education, where she was previously a lecturer in educational studies.
- “The idea of the class is to engage freshmen just coming here to this campus in thinking really systematically about the institution of public education,” Goldin said.
- Goldin said students will use what they learn about the national enterprise of education to apply it to the Chapel Hill context. She imagines the final project will be an educational reform policy analysis project.
- The commission then reviewed the progress of the "Unsung Founders Memorial: Past and Present" webinar series.
- Commission Co-chairperson Patricia Parker said the commission has held one webinar and another community conversation so far.
- The webinar was a discussion session about the memorial and its conceptualization. The second event was a conversation about what comes next for the memorial.
- Since then, the commission has also reached out to Angela Thorpe, director of the N.C. African American Heritage Commission, to bring her expertise into these conversations.
- Parker said the commission hopes to include Thorpe in community conversations in the near future.
- There was no new update on Barbee Cemetery for this meeting, Co-chairperson Jim Leloudis said. The Barbee Cemetery honors about 100 enslaved people.
- Leloudis said that a penetrating radar survey of the cemetery began a few weeks ago. The commission expects to have a full update on the survey when it gathers again in April.
- Leloudis said that he and Parker have had a series of conversations with Triangle Native American Society member Danny Bell, leaders of the First Nations Graduate Circle and with colleagues in the UNC American Indian Center, regarding the University's prospective land acknowledgment. He said they have started thinking through the proposed language for it.
- “And what a land acknowledgment should include well beyond just a set of words, recommendations that will also be behind that to make sure this land acknowledgment makes a difference in this community over time,” Leloudis said.
- He said the American Indian Center volunteered to organize an opportunity for the commission to speak with undergraduate students who are part of the Carolina Indian Circle.
The chancellor’s committee appointed to review the commission’s recommendations for renaming 10 campus buildings is still in progress.
- “My understanding is they’re aiming to have something to the chancellor prior to the May meeting of the Board of Trustees,” Leloudis said.
- He said he does not know the status of the UNC Student Stores building renaming, which is a separate process.
- The James Cates Remembrance Coalition sent a proposal in June to rename the Student Stores building after James Lewis Cates Jr. As of the fall semester, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz has sent the proposal to the BOT.
The official building renaming dedications for the McClinton Residence Hall and the Henry Owl building will occur on Friday, May 13, Parker said. The time will be announced soon.
- “We’re hoping that we’ll have some other events leading up to that,” she said.
Leloudis said it is time for the commission to start planning a national conference that will be held in spring 2023, one that will be similar to the University of Virginia’s National Conference on Race & Ethnicity. UVA's conference aims to provide education on issues of race and ethnicity in higher education.
What is the goal of the commission?
The University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward advises the chancellor and other University leaders on how to acknowledge the UNC's racist history. The commission focuses on the following areas: archives, history and curation; curriculum development and teaching; and engagement, ethics and reckoning, according to its website.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.