Two Visions For The Future

To understand the story of Carolina Hall and the controversy over its name, we must begin with the struggle that took place in North Carolina after the Civil War. The state’s citizens were divided between two distinct visions for the future. George Henry White and like-minded leaders sought to build an inclusive, multi-racial democracy. William Saunders and other champions of white supremacy fought to defeat and reverse that political revolution.

American Civil War: 1861-1865
Reconstruction: 1865-1877
  •  - 1866: Black Codes

    Southern states, including North Carolina, enact laws to limit the rights of newly freed slaves.

  •  - 1867-1868

    Congress nullifies the black codes and orders the former Confederate states to draft new constitutions. North Carolina voters ratify a constitution that protects the rights of black citizens, makes local government more democratic, and calls for a public school system.

  •  - 1868-1871: Saunders and the KKK

    William L. Saunders is a leader of the Ku Klux Klan bands that terrorize black citizens and the whites who ally with them in North Carolina’s newly established Republican Party.

  •  - 1871

    Conservative Democrats regain control of the state legislature and impeach Republican Governor William W. Holden, who had used the state militia to crack down on KKK terrorism in several counties.

  •  - Quote Reconstruction

    “I decline to answer.” William Saunders

    Saunders never publicly acknowledged his role in the Klan, even when called to testify before Congress in 1871.

  •  - 1875

    William Saunders is appointed to UNC’s Board of Trustees.

  •  - 1876-1877: RECONSTRUCTION ENDS

    After a contested national election, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes becomes the U.S. president via a compromise with southern Democrats and withdraws the last federal troops from the South.

Fusion and White Supremacy: 1894-1900
  •  - 1894 and 1896

    A multi-racial alliance, or “Fusion,” of Populists and Republicans wins control of North Carolina’s state government. George Henry White is elected to to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the last of four black Congressmen elected from North Carolina’s “Black Second” Congressional District.

  •  - Quote Fusion

    “The issue confronting the American people to-day is the liberty of the laboring people both white and black, an issue of vastly more importance than the enslavement or freedom of the negro ever was.” Fusion editorialist, 1896

  •  - 1898

    Conservative Democrats conduct a “white supremacy” campaign to split the Fusion alliance and regain control of state government. In Wilmington, Democrats spark racial violence and overthrow the city’s elected biracial government.

  •  - 1900: Disfranchisement

    Governor Charles B. Aycock and his fellow Democrats further consolidate power by stripping the right to vote from nearly all black men, as do white conservatives in other southern states.

Jim Crow in the Twentieth Century
  •  - 1900-1920: Segregation

    Leaders of Aycock’s generation mark public and private spaces with signs that separate ‘white’ from ‘colored.’

  •  - 1922

    The UNC Board of Trustees names a new classroom building for Saunders, citing his leadership of the KKK as an example of meritorious service to the state.

  •  - Quote Crow

    “We were bottled up and labeled and set aside — sent to the … back of the bus, the side door of the theater, the side window of a restaurant. We came to understand that no matter how neat and clean, how law-abiding, submissive and polite, how studious at school, how churchgoing and moral … we were, it made no essential difference in our place.” Pauli Murray, Civil Rights activist

Activism and Change
  •  - 1975

    An editorial in the Daily Tar Heel highlights Saunders’ reported leadership of the KKK in North Carolina.

  •  - 1990

    A guest column in the Daily Tar Heel again calls out Saunders’ connection to the Klan, and questions whether the building should still be named for him.

  •  - 1999

    Students Seeking Historical Truth hang KKK banners on Saunders Hall.

  •  - Quote Present

    “We cannot stand idly by as our history goes unquestioned, and as our silence serves as a blaring memorial to the wrongdoings of our past. We have a responsibility to our peers and ourselves to not only unveil, but confront the past we have inherited.” REAL SILENT SAM COALITION, 2014

  •  - 2015

    After student activists and supporters push for a change in the name of Saunders Hall, the Board of Trustees studies the issue and renames the building Carolina Hall.