University of North Carolina details past slavery ties





In the early decades of the University of North Carolina, servants kindled fires in students' rooms and cut wood to fuel stoves. The 216-year-old school, which takes pride in being the nation's oldest public university, is now airing a shameful side of its past -- those servants were slaves. The university is using records and photographs that archivists have uncovered to present a fuller story of the school's beginnings.

"This university was built by slaves and free blacks," said Chancellor James Moeser. "We need to be candid about that, acknowledge their contributions."

The University of North Carolina, chartered in 1789, is among several universities, banks and financial firms that have tried to set the record straight on their historical ties to the slave trade.

North Carolina archivists were researching the university's first 100 years when they found records that confirmed slaves helped construct campus buildings. Other records showed that both faculty and university board members owned slaves.

Some of that research is on display in "Slavery and the Making of the University: Celebrating Our Unsung Heroes, Bond and Free." The on-campus exhibit includes photographs, letters and documents such as bills of sale for slaves.



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