About

About Reclaiming the University of the People

Reclaiming the University of the People documents and interprets the history of how Black students and workers engaged in movements for racial justice at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1951 to 2018 challenged the University’s dominant cultural landscape of white supremacy.

By examining the histories of how and in what ways white supremacy manifests within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and how Black students and workers have challenged it, this documentary website provides a counter-history of the University directed by the legacy of Black freedom striving in Chapel Hill and remaps the experience of the campus landscape for an audience of former and future Chapel Hill citizens.

The history that Reclaiming the University of the People documents begins with the desegregation of UNC-Chapel Hill in 1951 by Black students and continues through the political reverberations in Chapel Hill following the toppling of the University’s Confederate Monument in late 2018. In between, this website charts histories of Black student- and worker-led racial justice movements through nine spaces of resistance that stretch the length of the campus landscape, from its southernmost dormitories to its northernmost academic quad. The histories and supporting materials that comprise Reclaiming the University of the People are spatially organized, traversing the cultural, institutional, and campus landscapes in its telling of the history of Black freedom striving in Chapel Hill.

Reclaiming the University of the People is the dissertation project of Charlotte Fryar, PhD Candidate in the Department of American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Content of Reclaiming the University of the People

Reclaiming the University of the People is designed for users to experience the histories of racial justice movements at UNC-Chapel Hill within the context of the campus landscape. There are three main points of access to these histories:

  • a series of Essays organized around the history of a campus space(s), which interpret the histories of racial justice movements with accompanying oral history interview clips, historic photographs, and archival material;
  • an Archive of approximately two hundred items, including letters, flyers, photographs, oral history interviews, audiovisual material, and other ephemera that document the histories of racial justice movements;
  • and a Map, which locates the histories of resistance to white supremacy in Chapel Hill in specific spaces around and within the campus landscape.

Whether users listen to oral history clips in the archive, orient themselves to the campus landscape with the map, or begin reading the history of Black students’ and workers’ resistance to white supremacy in the essays, there are multiple ways for users to learn from the legacy of Black freedom striving in Chapel Hill.

Where should I start?

Start by reading the introduction to the project, and if you wish to continuing reading, keep moving through the essays, beginning with South Campus, before making your way north across the campus landscape, with plenty of stops in between, to McCorkle Place. If, after reading the introduction, you need help orienting yourself within the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, click around and through the Map. If you’d prefer to experience the primacy of the documents and voices of former organizers, start with the Archive. If you’d like to explore potential future policies for reparative racial justice at the University, read the essay titled Moving Forward.

If you know the name of an organizer, an event, or a space you want to learn more about, click the magnifying glass in the top left corner of the page (or in the menu tab, if accessing via a mobile device) to search across the entire website. To learn why and how this project was made, read the Author Statement.

Citing Reclaiming the University of the People

Please use the following citation:

Fryar, Charlotte, “Reclaiming the University of the People: Racial Justice Movements at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1951-2018,” (PhD Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2019).

Please keep in mind that the text and data of this work are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Creative Commons License