Posted on December 6, 2021

UNC Renaming Buildings by Honoring First Black Professor and American Indian Student

Kate Murphy, News & Observer, December 3, 2021

UNC-Chapel Hill officially renamed a residence hall and the Student Affairs office building that have for decades honored individuals tied to white supremacy and racism.

The two buildings will honor Hortense McClinton, a Black professor, and Henry Owl, an American Indian student, whose legacies at the university will now be physically established on campus.

Aycock Residence Hall will now be known as McClinton Residence Hall. Carr Building, which houses the UNC-CH Student Affairs office, will now be the Henry Owl Building.

The new names will be installed about a year-and-a-half after the Board of Trustees voted to remove the buildings’ names in July 2020, lifting a 16-year moratorium on renaming places on campus. Students, faculty and alumni have been protesting and pressuring UNC leaders to remove the names for years, and the decision came as local and national racial justice protests called attention to Confederate monuments and buildings with racist ties.

“Hortense McClinton and Henry Owl were trailblazing pioneers who left an indelible legacy at Carolina,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement. “They embody the values that define our University, and naming these buildings after them marks an important step in building a campus community where everyone feels that they belong and can thrive.”


Aycock is a former North Carolina governor and UNC alumnus who led the white supremacy campaign of 1898 that “condoned the use of violence to terrorize black voters and their white allies” and was the “principal architect of the regime of Jim Crow,” according to a university report.


Julian Carr, a self-proclaimed “proud” member of the Ku Klux Klan, helped fund the Democratic Party’s white supremacy campaign of 1898, which “stripped black men of the right to vote and institutionalized racial segregation,” according to a university report.


Carr was also a university trustee and gave a racist speech at the dedication of the Silent Sam Confederate statue that stood on UNC’s campus for more than century until it was torn down by protesters in 2018, The News & Observer previously reported.


The university’s Commission on History, Race & A Way Forward, which recommended the removal of these building names, is researching other historic figures whose names should be removed.

Another committee is reviewing the group’s list of 10 historic university figures who were slave owners, Klansmen, white supremacists and Confederate officers that have campus buildings named after them. Students and faculty have also identified about 30 places on the Chapel Hill campus that honor people with ties to racism.


A university policy for renaming campus buildings and public spaces includes approval by the trustees and sets a standard for the name to be considered. Honorees must show a commitment to teaching, research and public service; been historically underrepresented; and have “demonstrated positive impact” on the campus and community.