Dear Carolina Community,
Recently, we witnessed the cowardly acts of two individuals who engaged in hateful, violent acts and spewed racially offensive words at the site of the Unsung Founders Memorial. For many members of our campus and local community, these acts were aimed at them as descendants of enslaved people who were shackled, forced to labor and build the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For those new to the campus or simply unaware of the history or significance of the Unsung Founders Memorial, the sculpture created by artist Do-Ho Suh, sits in McCorkle Place. It depicts 300 figures of men and women shouldering the table’s weight, made of black granite, supported by their hands or backs. Stone seats surround the table to celebrate the triumph of finally “having a seat at the table” they helped to build. Commissioned by the Class of 2002, the inscription reads, “The people of color bond and free – who helped build the Carolina that we cherish today.”
Like the Class of 2002, we must condemn such acts of violence and disregard. While recent events have left the university in a place of turmoil and unrest, there is no place for words or acts of violence, hateful speech, or racism. As reflected in the hopes and aspirations inscribed in Build Our Community Together, the Carolina community and leadership must acknowledge the trauma experienced by those who feel targeted by this most recent senseless act and continue to work to foster a sense of belonging and a sense of physical, psychological and emotional safety for all who feel harmed.
Special Advisor to the Provost and Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion/
Interim Chief Diversity Officer