Saunders Hall

Michelle Brown on the naming of Carolina Hall

Excerpt Description: Michelle Brown remembers the renaming of Saunders Hall and the activism of the Real Silent Sam Coalition, stating her anger over the issue as a motivating factor in her engagement in the movement to remove the Confederate Monument from the campus.

Interviewee Name: Michelle Brown

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “So I just learned how complicit UNC was in maintaining it because when I started to rally with those students to get those buildings removed, there wasn’t much support because the university doesn’t really try to educate students. And so the student body was very confused and very critical, which is typical of white people, they’re very critical when they don’t, when they’re made uncomfortable than their first action is to criticize rather than, you know be introspective and to really consider what’s going on. So there’s a lot of criticism and then the Board of Governors agreed to change this one building name and then put a sixteen year freeze, which you can justify that with anything other than racism because there’s no reason that you should not want to change those buildings. You should want it to change every single building after that and the fact that they were willing to go so far to prevent us from removing structural racism from our campus, including the 2015 law that prohibits us from removing Silent Sam. It just spoke volumes to what this university was willing to value and more than that, what people students were willing to defend.
Because I was livid when I heard about that sixteen year freeze and even more so pissed when I heard that they changed it to Carolina Hall. Every nook, cranny, and brick on this campus is named for somebody. Y’all can think of one name to name that whole after other than Carolina Hall? And we were pushing for a person of color. They knew that and they like to say, you know, Zora Neale Hurston was never an option for us, we never made that up. But you had options. Ask yourself how many people of color have ever lived? You could have chosen any of them. And so it was deliberate. It was a slap in the face.”

Excerpt Length: 1:56

Interview Date: 3/2/2018

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Campus Space: McCorkle Place

Citation: Interview with Michelle Brown by Charlotte Fryar, 2 March 2018, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.