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Thursday December 8th

Chancellor's committee discusses removal of Morrison and Pettigrew building names

<p>The Chancellor's Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 31, 2022 discussed the removal of Morrison and Pettigrew building names.</p>
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The Chancellor's Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 31, 2022 discussed the removal of Morrison and Pettigrew building names.

On Tuesday, the Chancellor's Committee to Review Resolution from Commission on History and Race met to discuss its draft proposal, which will make recommendations on the removal of 10 of the University's building names. 

The committee will send the proposal to the Chancellor to review before the Board of Trustees meeting in July.

In this meeting, the committee discussed the potential removal of the building names Morrison Residence Hall and Pettigrew Hall.

What’s new?

  • The committee discussed renaming draft resolutions for Morrison Residence Hall, named after Cameron A. Morrison, who was a white supremacist and the governor of North Carolina from 1921 to 1925.
    • Morrison led racist campaigns in 1898 and 1900 with white supremacist groups known as the Red Shirts. He became legislator in the state senate at the turn of the century, around the same time that Jim Crow laws were being ratified in North Carolina.
    • Mike Smith, the committee chairperson and dean of the School of Government, said that while there is no evidence of Morrison's voting record as a state senator, his racist past suggests that he was in favor of these segregation efforts.
    • “It’s just hard for me to believe that two years later, this person who was described as the ‘ultimate white supremacist,’ somehow was opposing these particular Jim Crow laws that hurt Black people — it just seems to almost defy belief,” Smith said. 
  • Barbara Rimer, dean of the Gillings School of Global Public Health, said the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has renamed the Morrison Regional library to SouthPark Regional library. She referenced Morrison's involvement in the Wilmington massacre of 1898 as further reason to remove his name from the residence hall.
    • “He was in Wilmington right around the time of the massacre and gave speeches that were certainly very influential in bringing about the massacre, if not responsible in and of themselves," Rimer said.
    • Michael Kennedy, a committee member, said Morrison did not express remorse or regret for being part of the Red Shirts. 
    • “I think it’s hard and that takes a lot of qualifying and discussion and more research,” said Cheryl Giscombe, the associate dean of the nursing school PhD Division & Program. 
  • All participants voted in favor of the recommendation to remove the Morrison namesake from the residence hall.
  • The committee also discussed Pettigrew Hall, named after James Johnston Pettigrew, who graduated from UNC in 1847. Pettigrew died in the civil war as a Confederate army general and made no significant contribution to the work of the University. 
    • According to the original document, even though Pettigrew advocated for slavery and promoted white supremacy, it is unclear how much he used his platform as a South Carolina state legislator to promote his beliefs.
    • The committee discussed changing the language in that passage to make Pettigrew's involvement with slavery and white supremacy more clear.
    • "Given that we do have a factor here that specifically talks about integrity and undermining the environment, the circumstances of the dedication, this creation of this place on campus that's dedicated to white supremacy is relevant," Mary-Rose Papandrea, professor of constitutional law at the UNC school of law, said. "I would support including that in the report if other members of the committee wanted to do that." 
  • Committee members debated whether there was enough circumstantial evidence to recommend the name removal. 
    • Papandrea said that there needed to be repugnant conduct by Pettigrew, such as his involvement in the Confederate army, in addition to the context of the dedication that would make it inappropriate to continue honoring Pettigrew and undermine the integrity of the University.
    • Graduate student Kate Brandt said there needs to be more conversation surrounding Pettigrew’s circumstances, since his participation in the Civil War is part of his public persona. 
    • The committee decided to revise the Pettigrew section of the report draft.

What’s next? 

  • Smith said the commission will review the names on the building Battle Hall, named after Kemp Plummer Battle, and Ruffin Residence Hall, named after Thomas Ruffin and his son Thomas Ruffin Jr., next.
  • The committee has a goal of finishing the drafts so that Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz is able to make a recommendation to the BOT.
  • The committee has not set the date of its next meeting yet. 

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