Chancellor apologizes for UNC-CH's past links to slavery
While honoring the 225th anniversary of the founding of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the nation's first public university, Chancellor Carol Folt on Friday also offered an apology to the school's historical ties to slavery.Posted — Updated
"I offer our university's deepest apology for the profound injustices of slavery and our full acknowledgement of the strength of enslaved people in the face of their suffering and our respect and indebtedness to them," Folt said in her University Day address.
"Our unique legacy demands that we continue to reconcile our past with our present and future and be the diverse and just community that is fitting for America’s first public university," she said. "If done with honesty, resolve and strength of purpose, our choices will help us come to terms with our past, and move us to a better future."
UNC-Chapel Hill has been trying to come to grips with its racial history for several years
"Our apology must lead to purposeful action, and it has to build upon the great efforts and sacrifices of so many across the years who fought so hard for much of what we value about Carolina today," Folt said.
History professor James Leloudis, co-chairman of the Chancellor’s Task Force of UNC-Chapel Hill’s History, detailed the university’s efforts to install signs and educational markers in McCorkle Place to put the school past ties to slavery in context.
Signs and markers will be placed at the quad entrances to mark the birthplace of American public higher education and acknowledge the indigenous people who "were the first stewards of this land, and whose descendants work, study and teach here today," Leloudis said.
A marker near the Unsung Founders Memorial "will express the university’s deep contrition for its role in the injustices of slavery and invite visitors to join us in researching and recovering the full humanity of the enslaved men and women who built so much of the early university and sustained it, he said, adding that repair and renovation of the memorial "will create a more respectful, contemplative space."
Once a plan for Silent Sam's future has been approved, he said, extensive research already conducted will help "inform an exhibit and other educational materials to teach the history of the monument and the era of white supremacy in which it was erected."
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