Students push for UNC-Chapel Hill to rename building honoring KKK leader
Students at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill gathered in front of Saunders Hall to call for a renaming of the building.
The Rename Saunders campaign which launched on April 9, has an online petition with more than 650 signatures.
“We will not bow down to racism. We will not bow down to injustice. We will not bow down to exploitation.”
These words rang out across the quad yesterday as UNC students, organizations, staff and faculty members gathered in front of Saunders Hall to call for the renaming of the building.
The campaign, called Rename Saunders and launched April 9, has an online petition that has more than 650 signatures to date. Organizers have also been using an extensive social media push to call upon the Board of Trustees to place a plaque on the building that explains who William L. Saunders was and why they feel he has no place on UNC’s campus.
Saunders, a UNC alumnus, North Carolina politician and University trustee, was also a Grand Dragon for the state Ku Klux Klan.
Saunders graduated from UNC in 1854. He lead the North Carolina KKK during the late 1860s when the Klan went on a terror campaign in response to Reconstruction.
He also served as University trustee until 1891. According to school policy, a building may be renamed if an honoree’s reputation changes significantly since the time of the dedication, but historical context at the time of naming must be considered.
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