An open letter to President Brodhead about Aycock dorm

✔ Good day fellow Dukies. Fact Checker here. Probative. Provocative.

Today's post is an open letter to President Brodhead about Aycock dorm:

One of our freshman dorms on East Campus, Aycock, is named for a terrorist, a man who spawned a race riot in Wilmington, N.C. that cost as many as 100 black people their lives.

A building named in his honor is totally inappropriate.

Mr. President, over the past two years, FC has written you privately four times about this issue and you have never responded. A student leader raised this issue with you personally this spring, while meeting with you in your office on another subject, and you refused to discuss it. Earlier you ducked after two other student leaders wrote a letter to the Chronicle about this travesty.

Mr. Brodhead, we will no longer tolerate your silence. We want to hear your position on this forthwith; and if you fail us again, FC is prepared to mount a campaign to force the issue. On all levels. A campaign among students who are assigned to live in Aycock. A nation-wide campaign among all people of good will who think this memorial should not stand.

This is Number One on the FC agenda for the new academic year that has just started.

Show some leadership. Remember that when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in Page Auditorium, he said that those who remain silent in the face of racial discrimination are just as morally guilty of hate as those who outwardly endorse prejudice.

The following is from FC for May 4, 2011.

"....protect the white race,
especially the white women,
against the Negro.”

Charles Brantley Aycock

Aycock was North Carolina's 50th governor, from 1901-1905. Cheered as the first education governor, the good he did was more than eclipsed by his racism. Violent rabid racism.

He was a terrorist.

On November 10, 1898, Aycock -- a great orator -- egged on a mob of 2,000 who marched to city hall in Wilmington and staged a coup d'etat, perhaps the only one in American history.

The gun-firing mob forced the progressive city government to resign -- whites and blacks together -- and installed their own segregationists. The mob torched a black newspaper.

According to his biographer Oliver Orr, Jr., Aycock advised the coup planners “to wear red shirts or carry guns” and to remember that “they must do these things to protect the white race, especially the white women, against the Negro.”

By day's end, Aycock proclaimed the city to be “the center of the white supremacy movement” in North Carolina. Once elected governor, Aycock diligently worked to protect and further entrench segregation in the state, setting the stage for a Dixie stain upon the Democratic Party.

November 10, 1898 in Wilmington: Scores of blacks were killed during the rampage, with some estimates going well over 100.

The start of the 2011-12 academic year: Duke University still honors the memory of Haycock with his name on a freshman dorm.

✔The Aycock situation was brought to the attention of our campus two years ago by two students who wrote a letter to the editor of the Chronicle. They learned of the horrendous crimes of Aycock by accident -- because the Democratic Party in North Carolina stripped his name from its annual fund-raising dinner in Asheville. So far as FC knows, the letter writers did not follow up. And shamefully neither did the Chronicle.

Duke is not unique in facing an issue like this. Three years ago Georgia Tech tore down its Pick rick Cafeteria. The school had acquired the eatery from Lester Maddox, "Mr. White Backlash," who in 1964 chased blacks trying to eat there with a revolver. His son wielded a pickax, which became widely known as a symbol. Politically active, candidate for Governor, Maddox achieved iconic status in segregation's last stand.

Another example: The University of Texas at Austin had a long dialogue and its president led the Regents in stripping the name of William Stewart Simkins from a law school dorm.

Sim kins taught law at UT -- continuing as an active and open member of the KKK, promoting the organization in his classes and around the law school.

Gregory Vincent, vice president, UT: "...the name compromises public trust and the university's reputation... By his own admission, Simkins engaged in violent behavior against African Americans. These were actions taken outside of the law....

Continuing, a building "... named for a founder of the Florida KKK is inconsistent with the core values of this university."

University President William Powers: "An institution like ours is shaped by its history, but it need not be encumbered by it... While reflecting on the past and learning from it, it is important to focus on the future.

"The University of Texas at Austin is now among the most diverse institutions of higher education in the nation, and we will continue to invest in ensuring this is a place of opportunity for young people from all racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds."

Mr. Brodhead, consider those words a template for what you must say.

Thank you for reading Fact Checker.

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