Duke must look at past, present, future before deciding to rename Carr building

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

DURHAM, N.C. — Students and supporters rallied on the Duke University campus Wednesday, pushing the administration to change the name of the Carr building.

The Carr building, which is home to the history department, is named for Julian Carr, who fought for the Confederacy and gave a fiery speech at the 1913 Silent Sam statue dedication.

Carr made his money in the tobacco industry, and, at the Silent Sam dedication, he bragged about "horse-whipping a black woman."

Last month, faculty members in the history department filed a formal request to change the name of the Carr building to the Gavins building in honor of Raymond Gavins, the first African-American in the Duke history department.

"Once you know what happened, and know the fuller history, we have an obligation to take that into account," Professor Gunther Peck said. "Ray was an incredibly humble man, he never sought the limelight. He would be proud, not for himself but for that change."

Carr, who died in 1924, was a veteran, philanthropist and white supremacist. He contributed to the University of North Carolina, what is now the Town of Carrboro and to Duke.

Carr actually gifted the land on which protesters were gathering Wednesday evening. He donated 62 acres to what was, at the time, Trinity College, making it possible for the school to relocate from Trinity, North Carolina, to Durham. In 1892, Trinity College changed its name to Duke University.

"Money never forgets where it came from," said Duke Professor Wahneema Lubiano. "A wealthy donor does not simply make a gift of money, of land, of other resources that somehow are timeless, are free of everything that accompanies the gift."

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