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The History Department, along with Sociology, Political Science, and Peace, War & Defense have started the process of renaming Hamilton Hall. Our motivation for renaming the building is rooted in the history of our University and Professor Hamilton’s role in shaping it for the benefit of white supremacy. Ample evidence of this is available in the historical materials available below. Our motivation for selecting Pauli Murray is powerful and clear. As the faculty and student committee that developed our proposal wrote:

“Born in 1910 and raised in Durham, NC, Murray was a black descendent of one of the university’s original trustees, James Strudwick Smith. In 1938, Murray applied to the Ph.D. program in sociology but was denied admission because, as university officials wrote at the time, ‘members of your race are not admitted to the university.’

Undeterred, Murray would go on to achieve prominence as an outspoken scholar whose academic scholarship continues to make major contributions to numerous disciplines. Murray was a gifted orator, author, attorney, historian, priest, and activist who advocated for the rights of all members of society. Murray’s legacy more fully encapsulates the values we cherish in a modern society and the University of North Carolina claims to uphold. ”

Pauli Murray represents the immutable spirit of scholarship and public service, as she made major contributions to our society in the face of nearly insurmountable resistance. She also represents a path not taken for UNC at an important point in the history of our disciplines and departments. Naming our building after Pauli Murray will serve as a reminder of what is lost, what could have been, and what can be as we move forward.

Our letter to the Chancellor outlining this request and the reasons for it may be read here.

Writings by and about Pauli Murray

  1. Pauli, Murray, Song in a weary throat: Memoir of an American pilgrimage (Liveright Publishing, 2018).
  2. Glenda Gilmore, “Before Brown: Pauli Murray and the Desegregation of Higher Education,” Rutgers Race & L. Rev. 6 (2004): 247.
  3. Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, “Admitting Pauli Murray,” Journal of Women’s History 14, no. 2 (2002): 62-67.
  4. Rosalind Rosenberg, Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray (Oxford University Press, 2017).


Writings about Joseph Gregoire de Roulhac Hamilton and the naming of Hamilton Hall

  3. John Herbert Roper Sr., “Ransack Roulhac and Racism: Joseph Gregoire de Roulhac Hamilton and Dunning’s Questions of Institution Building and Jim Crow,” in The Dunning School: Historians, Race and the Meaning of Reconstruction. Ed. John David Smith and J. Vincent Lowery (Lexington : University Press of Kentucky 2013)
  4. Carlyle Sitterson, “Joseph Gregoire de Roulhac Hamilton, 1878-1961,” Documenting the American South,
  5. Matisha H. Wiggs, “Ransacking the South: J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton and the Founding of the Southern Historical Collection,” (Master’s thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2012)
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