Trustees at the University of North Carolina are renaming a classroom building so that it no longer carries the name of a Ku Klux Klan leader.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Thursday that Saunders Hall–named after William Saunders, a prominent member of the violent white supremacist group after the Civil War in the 19th century–will be renamed.

The decision reverses one made in 1920 to honor Saunders. The building now housing the geography department will be renamed Carolina Hall.


According to its website, Chapel Hill officially named what was then its new history department building after Saunders in 1922.

Saunders was an 1854 graduate of the university who served as a colonel in the Civil War. A lawyer by trade, went on to become known as chief Klan organizer in North Carolina.

He was also Secretary of State of North Carolina for a time and became well known as a compiler of historic documents, though his affiliation with the virulent white supremacy group has come to tarnish Saunders’ reputation as a Southern historian.


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