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June 18, 2014

Duke University renames Aycock Hall, which honored former governor tied to white supremacy

Duke University building will no longer bear the name of former N.C. Gov. Charles Aycock, whose history was linked to white supremicist campaigns in the late 1800s.

Duke University has renamed Aycock Hall, striking the name of former N.C. Gov. Charles B. Aycock, who was known as both an “education governor” and a leader of white supremicist campaigns in 1898 and 1900.

Duke President Richard Brodhead announced the change in a letter this week to student leaders, following years of activism on the issue by Duke Student Government and the Black Student Alliance.

The building, on Duke’s East Campus, will now be known by its original name, East Residence Hall. The change was recommended by Brodhead and approved by the university’s Board of Trustees.

University leaders considered the arguments by student groups and also commissioned a Duke Ph.D. and former state archivist to analyze Aycock’s “complicated legacy as a North Carolina leader,” Brodhead’s letter said. Aycock was not involved with Duke nor gave money for the building.

“Today, 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and at the conclusion of a commemoration of integration at Duke, the values of inclusion and nondiscrimination are key parts of the university’s mission,” the letter said. “After careful consideration, we believe it is no longer appropriate to honor a figure who played so active a role in the history that countered those values.”

An explanation of the building’s name and history will be displayed in its lobby, Brodhead said.

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