In this archive, you can find oral histories, student publications, letters and correspondence, meeting minutes, flyers, television news coverage, legal memos, committee reports, newspaper coverage, and other ephemera that document the histories of racial justice movements at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Explore the archive on this page by learning more about how items in the archive relate to the history of various campus spaces, or search for specific names, dates, or organizations by clicking the magnifying glass in the top left corner of the page (or in the menu tab, if accessing via a mobile device). Click here to see all archival items.
Beginning in the early 1970s, the South Campus residence community, comprised of Hinton James, Ehringhaus, Morrison, and Craige Residence Halls, served as powerful community space for Black students within and against the white supremacy of the University. The history of conversations surrounding South Campus’s status as the predominant location for on-campus housing for Black students illustrates a number of crucial themes—the enactment of anti-Black institutional policies, white students’ complicity in maintaining white supremacy, and the desire of the institution to maintain segregation while appearing to desegregate—that emerge throughout the history of racial justice movements at the University. Click here to see all archival items for South Campus.
Lenoir Hall and Manning Hall
Generations of organizers at the University have drawn on the history of the Foodworkers’ Strikes of 1969, a dynamic movement led by Black female low-wage workers on campus, as a model for forceful protest against institutionalized injustice. Two buildings on campus, in which most of the actions of the strikes occurred, illustrate how Black workers, supported by Black and white students, contested a space of oppressive institutional power and created their own space of community resistance. The history of Lenoir and Manning Halls during the Foodworkers’ Strikes reveal how the University ignores Black students’ and workers’ contestations of institutional power structures and eliminates spaces of community created by Black students and workers. Click here to see all archival items for Lenoir Hall and Manning Hall.
Upendo Lounge, first opened in Chase Hall in 1973, became the first formal Black counter-space on the campus which operated to provide for the social needs of Black students within the whiteness of the University’s culture. Because Upendo was the first formally recognized Black student space on the campus, it was deemed by the University’s white administrators and students as a hazard to the maintenance of white supremacy. The history of Upendo Lounge, now located in SASB North, demonstrates the tremendous scrutiny and retaliation experienced by Black students through established institutional practices of discrimination and neglect. Click here to see all archival items for Upendo Lounge.
The Fishbowl or the Black Cultural Center, located from 1988 to 2004 on the first floor of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union, operated as one of the only campus spaces, along with Upendo Lounge and the South Campus dorms, in which Black students could find respite from the University’s whiteness. Beginning in the late 1980s, the Black Cultural Center served as the foremost counter-space for Black students, combining for the first time the social and academic needs of Black students within the space. The history of the campus movements that operated for and within the space of the Fishbowl demonstrates the ways in which the institution sought to control, contain, and exclude Black life from the dominant culture of the University. Click here to see all archival items for the Fishbowl.
The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History
A progressive student-led movement in the early 1990s to build a free-standing building for the Black Cultural Center (BCC) created the current Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, today one of the preeminent centers in the nation for the critical examination of all dimensions of African-American and African diaspora cultures. The BCC movement, led by Black students and supported by non-Black students and array of administrators and faculty, forced the University to determine whether a distinct building and center devoted to the study of Black culture could be incorporated into the white hegemony of the institution. The history of the ways in which the University’s leadership mitigated the power of the BCC movement and the building of the Stone Center itself confirms the institution’s deep anti-Black bias. Click here to see all archival items for the Stone Center.
The former University Laundry was re-named the Kennon Cheek/Rebecca Clark Building in 1998 to honor two Black labor organizers and University employees from Orange County in the early twentieth century. In the seven years before the Cheek-Clark Building rededication, the UNC Housekeepers Association, a group comprised of the low-wage housekeepers and groundskeepers of the University, organized one of the most successful labor movements of the late twentieth century in the South. As a result of their movement, the housekeepers won over one million dollars in pay raises and back pay, career training, and a historical commission that led to renaming of the Cheek-Clark Building. Directed by the legacies of Black freedom striving in Chapel Hill, housekeepers shaped their movement by using the University’s history as a tool with which to pursue justice for Black low-wage workers at the University, creating a model for how histories of injustice could be used to rectify present conditions. Click here to see all archival items for the Cheek-Clark Building.
In May 2015, the University’s Board of Trustees voted to rename Saunders Hall, marking the first time a building on the campus had been renamed for reasons relating to the legacy of the building’s namesake. The renaming of this building was a direct result of almost two decades of student organizing, which had focused primarily on Saunders Hall among many spaces within the campus landscape that honored leaders of white supremacist movements. The movement to contest Saunders Hall, which began in the 1990s, marked a significant shift in racial justice movements towards the direct contestation of spaces which represented and enacted the University’s white supremacy, re-conceptualizing what it meant to use the institution’s own history as a tool to challenge white supremacy. Click here to see all archival items for Saunders Hall.
McCorkle Place is the memorial nexus of the University’s campus, said to be the most densely memorialized piece of real estate in North Carolina. Within the space that serves as the University’s symbolic front lawn, there are almost a dozen monuments and memorials fundamental to the University’s lore and traditions, but only two monuments within the space–the Unsung Founders Memorial and the University’s Confederate Monument–have determined the role of McCorkle Place as a space for racial justice movements. Together, the two monuments and the history of racial justice movements around them provide a striking polarity from which to examine the varied ways in which campus organizers have used the University’s history as a tool of activation and demonstration towards the expulsion of white supremacy from the campus and institution. Click here to see all archival items about McCorkle Place.