The UNC-Greensboro Aycock Ad Hoc Committee met last Thursday to hear from multiple historians as the committee deliberates over the recommendation it will give the UNCG Board of Trustees regarding whether or not to change the name of Aycock Auditorium.
Shannon Bennett, associate chief of staff in the chancellor’s office, wrote in an email that there is not an official timeline for the decision, and the next meeting for the committee has not been scheduled.
The UNCG Board of Trustees will make the final decision on whether or not to change the name of the building, using the committee’s recommendation to inform the ultimate decision.
According to the Aycock Ad Hoc committee report, East Carolina University and Duke University have removed Aycock’s name from their residence halls.
James Thornton, the interim vice chancellor of university relations, said that before the subcommittee was formed by the Board of Trustees, there were four months of public forums and more than 1,000 statements were taken on the subject from alumni, students, faculty and staff.
According to the Ad Hoc report, there were exactly 1,031 responses to the first question of whether Aycock auditorium should or should not be renamed, and of those, 48 percent replied “no” and 52 percent replied “yes.”
The Ad Hoc report says that there were 1,019 responses to the second question of “Should UNCG acknowledge the controversy surrounding Governor Aycock?” The report says that 24 percent said “no” and 76 percent said “yes.”
Thornton says that the reason the decision was pushed back in May was to give the subcommittee time to deliberate on the issue and gather more information.
Aycock Auditorium is a very prominent building on campus, sitting on the corner of Tate St. and Spring Garden, that has been mired in recent controversy. Many students walk past it, and it is also a landmark on UNCG’s campus.
The auditorium was named after Charles B. Aycock, a former North Carolina governor and known white supremacist. An article in the News and Record explains that Aycock was known as the “education governor,” for his insistence on a strong public education system.
The same article also stated that Aycock was a white supremacist who wanted to disfranchise black voters and enforce Jim Crow.
According to Thornton, the Board of Trustees formed a subcommittee in February to review the situation and make recommendations to the board.
One of the co-chairs of this subcommittee is Dr. Chuck Bolton, an American history professor at UNCG.
According to Bolton, Charles Aycock was a promoter of public education as well as a promoter of white supremacy and segregation.
Bolton said that Aycock helped to build a white supremacy movement which eventually grew to violently overthrow the biracial government in Wilmington.
Bolton said that this event is one of the events that established segregation in North Carolina for a long time. While Bolton explained this, he also offered further insight.
“At the same time, much about our past is negative and offensive, and we need to understand and remember that history,” Bolton said. “Whether or not the name is changed, some kind of educational component that explains the history of Aycock and his legacy should be erected on the grounds of the building or within the building.”
According to the informational website created by the committee, Aycock was connected to UNCG through a friendship with the school’s first president Charles McIver.
The website also explains that Aycock was called the “education governor” because he pushed for drastic reform and believed in universal education.
The website says that Aycock wanted to educate the black population because he believed that disfranchisement had caused many of them to leave the state and he said in a speech that “an effort to reduce their public schools would send thousands more of them away from us.”