A public panel discussion is happening on the campus of UNC at Greensboro to explore the legacy of former North Carolina Governor Charles Aycock. It comes seven months after the Board of Directors decided to rename Aycock Auditorium.

Charles Aycock served as governor from 1901 and 1905. He was considered a champion for public education. But he was also a known white supremacist. UNCG Professor Benjamin Filene says the discussion is the first step in a year-and-a-half-long project investigating Aycock and the complicated history of race, and public memory. 

He says, "Inevitably every generation revisits its past and tries to make sense of it. It's not something you do once and for all. So I see this not really as an erasure but as an opportunity for a perhaps overdue, fresh look at the past and what it means to us."

The project will eventually include a new digital campus chronicling its commemorative landscape, and the development of an Aycock exhibition plan.

"We are going to have every building represented on the digital map," says Filene. "And we've been working with my colleagues in the university libraries so that you can click on a filter and every building named after a politician will show up in one color. Then click to find how many of these buildings were named after professors. How many of those were white men? When were they named--so you put a series of different lenses on the landscape and see patterns."

Filene says the project rollout and discussions surrounding Aycock have already sparked spirited discussions on campus, and he says that's a good thing. "The way we mark our campus, the people that we exalt and carve into stone does send a message about our priorities and has the affect - intentional or not - of shaping who feels in the center of things and who feels marginalized, and who feels welcomed, who feels comfortable," says Filene. "I think it's appropriate, and useful - history can be a useful way for us to work through some of these very real, contemporary challenges that so many of us are concerned about and are trying to work through in the wider society. A campus can be a - you hope - a safe place to struggle with those things and practice moving towards some better solutions along the way."

The panel presentation is Friday afternoon, October 14th in UNCG Auditorium beginning at 3:30pm.  





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