Duke University Votes to Rename Building that Honors White Supremacist Donor


Duke University’s board of trustees voted unanimously on Saturday to remove racist industrialist Julian Carr’s name from its building that houses the history department.

The East Campus building at Duke bore Carr’s name for 90 years, but the name of the building has been taken down, the Duke Chronicle reported. It will be called Classroom Building until a name is agreed upon. However, the history department requested that it be renamed after the university’s first African-American professor in the department, Raymond Gavins.

Duke University
Duke Blue Devils Marching Band lead the Walk of Champions during the college football game between North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils on November 10, 2018, at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC. (Photo by Michael Berg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Committee members and others petitioned for Carr’s name to be removed due to his white supremacist history. Carr, a major a donor to the university, was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He supported the lynchings of Black people and bragged about “horsewhipp[ing]” a Black woman “until her skirts hung in shreds” according to the News Observer. In 1900, the industrialist ran for the U.S. Senate based on a white supremacist platform.

The Duke University Board of Trustees’ decision to strip Carr’s name from the building was announced via email from President Vincent Price on December 1.

“We note that no individual is perfect, and we do not pretend to sit in judgment on any individual as a human or citizen,” the committee wrote. “But the white supremacist actions that Carr pursued throughout his life, even when considered in light of the time in which they were held, are inconsistent with the fundamental aspirations of this university, and removing the name will be a powerful statement that lifts up our values as a diverse and inclusive institution.”

Duke Vice President for Public Affairs Michael Schoenfeld said a marker will remain in the building to indicate why it was named “for Carr in the first place, in 1930, and why that name was taken down ninety years later.”

Price’s email to the university of the weekend said, “Our campus is first and foremost an inclusive community of people, not of classrooms and buildings. … With each new student or faculty member who arrives here, with each new discovery made or perspective shared, this community grows and evolves to better meet the challenges of its time.”

There’s no word on when the name of the building will be physically removed.

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