News| Race In America | The Nation's Oldest Public University Visits Shameful Past

News| Race In America | The Nation's Oldest Public University Visits Shameful Past

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Nov. 11, 2005 – The 216-year-old University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which takes pride in being the nation's oldest public university, is now airing a shameful side of its past.

The Associated Press reported that in the early days of the UNC-Chapel Hill, the school had slaves to kindled fires in students' rooms and cut wood to fuel stoves.
 
The university is using records and photographs that archivists have uncovered to present a fuller story of the school's beginnings.

"This university was built by slaves and free blacks," Chancellor James Moeser told AP. "We need to be candid about that, acknowledge their contributions."

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The University of North Carolina, chartered in 1789, is among several universities, banks and financial firms that have tried to set the record straight on their historical ties to the slave trade.

North Carolina archivists were researching the university's first 100 years when they found records that confirmed slaves helped construct campus buildings. Other records showed that both faculty and university board members owned slaves.

 "The chancellor has said over and over again that it's critical for the university to be honest about its past. He wants our history told fully, warts and all," Susan Ballinger, assistant university archivist told The Associated Press.

Some of that research is on display in "Slavery and the Making of the University: Celebrating Our Unsung Heroes, Bond and Free." The on-campus exhibit includes photographs, letters and documents such as bills of sale for slaves.

Is it good that UNC-Chapel Hill is owning up to its slave-holding past or is it largely irrelevant.  Click on "Discuss Now" to post your comments.

Written by BET-Staff

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