Students at the University of North Carolina interrupted University Day activities -- which mark the anniversary of the start of construction of the university's first building, in 1793 -- to protest a Confederate statue on campus. Students marched and, for a time, interrupted a speech by Chancellor Carol Folt. The university has said it is studying ways to contextualize various statues on campus, but many students say this one should come down. In May, the board of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill voted to change the name of Saunders Hall, which since 1920 has honored William L. Saunders, a Reconstruction-era leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Board members said they believed it was a mistake for the board in 1920 to say that Saunders's Klan ties were worthy of honoring. The building will be renamed Carolina Hall. The board also announced plans to more formally create ways to study the university's history, and declared a 16-year moratorium on renaming other buildings.
The statue currently being criticized is known as "Silent Sam," and was added to campus in 1913, officially to honor the Confederate war dead. But many black students and others see the statue as part of an effort at the time and since to minimize the way the Confederacy and the Jim Crow-era South denied any equality to black people.
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