New Names for 2 Buildings at UNC Chapel Hill

Nearly two years after lifting its ban on renaming campus buildings, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has officially renamed two buildings that had previously honored supporters of white supremacy.

In a May 13 ceremony, a residence hall was named in honor of Hortense McClinton, the campus’s first Black faculty member, who was hired in 1966. The student affairs building was named in honor of Henry Owl, the first person of color and the first Indigenous person to enroll in graduate school at Chapel Hill, in 1928.

McClinton, who is 103 years old, taught in the campus’s School of Social Work.

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to work here. I hope we will continue to do good things in racism and we will learn a lot,” she said at the renaming ceremony, according to WRAL-TV.

The Board of Trustees for the Chapel Hill campus voted in June 2020 to lift its moratorium on renaming buildings, monuments, memorials and landscapes. The vote came in the wake of antiracism protests by students, faculty and staff members, and alumni. The decision opened the door for renaming buildings that honored people with objectionable histories. As a result, the name of Julian Carr, who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was removed from the student affairs building. The name of former governor Charles Brantley Aycock, who was elected in 1901 after running a pro–white supremacist campaign, was also removed from a residence hall.

The buildings went without namesakes until the Board of Trustees voted to rename them last November. The new honorees were announced in December.

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