A post-Civil War era Ku Klux Klan leader’s name will be stripped from a campus building at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after a vote by the school’s board of trustees on Thursday.
The board said university trustees had erred in 1920 when they cited alumnus William L. Saunders’ role in the KKK, a white supremacist movement that arose after the 1865 defeat of the pro-slavery Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War, as a qualification for naming a classroom building in his honor.
Saunders was the Klan’s chief organizer in North Carolina in 1869 and 1870. He also served as a Confederate colonel during the Civil War and secretary of state for North Carolina.
Students and alumni had petitioned trustees during the past year to rename the building. The board said Saunders Hall would now be called Carolina Hall “to reinforce the larger concept of community,” according to a school statement.
“Today’s decisions make an unequivocal statement about Carolina’s values and the importance of continuing to cultivate an inclusive and positive educational atmosphere for our campus,” said Lowry Caudill, the board’s chairman.