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UNC history and race commission gives updates on campus spaces


The Unsung Founders Memorial is located in McCorkle Place and was built to commemorate the enslaved men and women and their descendants who built the University.

The University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward welcomed Danielle Hiraldo, the director of the American Indian Center, as its newest member at its Monday meeting.

The Commission also provided updates on two ongoing projects for the Barbee-Hargraves Cemetery and the Unsung Founders Memorial.    

What’s new?  

  • Hiraldo began her role at UNC in July and is the fourth director of the American Indian Center since its founding. She said she is excited to be a part of the Commission.    
  • Patricia Parker, co-chairperson of the Commission, said the group has spent the past calendar year working with descendant community groups to build trust and think about long- and short-term goals for the Barbee Cemetery and Unsung Founders memorial projects.
    • “In both instances, there’s a desire on the part of the community and the Commission, as the University, to develop a process for reconciliation and repair,” Parker said. “This has been a through line for our work since the beginning.”   
  • Parker said the Commission is hearing from descendant communities that they want training and resources for descendant community members to tell their own stories that go beyond the Barbee Cemetery Project.     
    • She said the Commission has reached out to a network of Black designers and landscape architects who had experience creating a space for community-led design work.  
    • “In both instances of these projects, there are short-term projects, and there’s a need, and basically part of our charge, for some design interventions, for signage, for anti-racist contextualization and in the case of Unsung Founders Memorial, of course, there is this need for protection against the deterioration of the base of the memorial,” Parker said.    
  • Commission member Giselle Corbie asked how this narrative will get incorporated in University tours.
    • “As we think about how this narrative gets disseminated, I would want to make sure that it’s accessible to as many people that are representing this University, in all the small and larger ways,” Corbie said.
    • Commission member Delores Bailey said the history of the community should be included on UNC’s campus.
    • “I pray that I see this incorporation before the Commission is done,” Bailey said. “I will then be able to walk in my community with my head held high and say any freshman that walks on that campus knows and understands the blood, sweat and tears that were shed on UNC’s campus because we made a point of it.”
    • Parker said after the meeting, Commission leaders will work to find the mechanisms for changing scripts on campus tours.            
  • Discussion of the Commission’s work toward a land acknowledgment was tabled for the next meeting. 
  • Commission co-chairperson Jim Leloudis said planning for the spring "Universities Studying Slavery Conference" is underway. The conference will be held from March 15 to 18.  
    • Leloudis said the Commission will focus on active recruiting for conference programming.
    • “When we’re talking about the University studying slavery and what we want to share with folks in our time, I think it’s really important that we center the community,” Commission member Danita Mason-Hogans said.   
  • The Commission’s grant request for a community book club focusing on the book “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century” was approved. This was part of the Commission’s Race and Schooling project. 
    • “We will be able to purchase 100 books for members of the community and study the effects of reparations,” Mason-Hogans said.
    • Mason-Hogans said the book club will start early next year.


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