Memorial Hall

The original Memorial Hall was constructed in 1875 to honor President David Lowry Swain and fallen Confederate alumni. Dozens of marble tablets naming the war’s victims hang on the walls of the building. Though time has obscured the nature of the “memorial” in Memorial Hall, which now serves as the home for Carolina Performing Arts, the building was first constructed to honor Confederate veterans. In 1999, Students Seeking Historical Truth identified Memorial Hall as one of the more problematic buildings on the campus, because it “pulls it [the campus] all together,” by honoring dozens of the state’s antebellum elite and Confederate officers. Memorial Hall has also been the site of over a half dozen protests held on University Day, October 12th, including demonstrations organized by the Black Student Movement in 1976, Black Cultural Center supporters in 1992, the Housekeepers’ Association and their supporters in 1997, and the Real Silent Sam Coalition in 2015.

Memorial Hall, in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection Collection #P0004, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Organization: Students Seeking Historical Truth, Black Student Movement, UNC Housekeepers Association, BCC Movement, Real Silent Sam Coalition

Space Use: Monument or Memorial

Spatial Organizing Approach: Contestation

Date Created: 1931

Campus Space: Saunders Hall, Upendo Lounge, Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, McCorkle Place

Citation: Saunders Hall Anti-Klan decoration, presentation, and speak-out, October 1999 in the John Kenyon Chapman Papers #5441, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.