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Duke votes to rename dorm named for racist NC governor

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The Duke University Board of Trustees has voted to rename Aycock, a freshman dormitory named for Gov. Charles B. Aycock, according to The Duke Chronicle, pointing to Aycock’s racist views as a reason for the change.

The dorm will be named East Residence Hall, which was its original name.

Aycock was elected governor in 1900 and embarked on an ambitious program to ramp up public education in North Carolina, which had languished after the Civil War. But he endorsed segregation and did not believe blacks should vote.

Aycock was one of North Carolina’s leaders at a time when whites re-asserted dominance after the end of Reconstruction, and he traveled the state speaking about the importance of white supremacy.

Once he became governor, education was his priority. But how public education would be funded was a critical issue in Aycock’s time – many powerful white leaders did not want taxes to fund education for blacks. Aycock’s compromise was that taxes from whites would fund white schools, and taxes from blacks would fund black schools. The disparity in wealth, however, led to substantially different funding for schools between the races.

When Aycock was elected governor, North Carolina had 900 public school districts with no school houses. During Aycock’s four years as governor, the state added 1,100 schools.

Aycock served as governor for four years. He decided to run for the U.S. Senate in 1911 but died while giving a speech on the importance of education in Birmingham, Ala. He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh.

Aycock High School in Pikeville is named for him and his birthplace in Wayne County, near Fremont, is a North Carolina historic site.

Aycock graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1900. A residence hall at UNC is also named for him.

A statue of Aycock pointing to a book is one of North Carolina’s two statues in the U.S. Capitol.

A book entitled “The Life and Speeches of Charles Brantley Aycock” from 1912 said of Aycock records his career. In the introduction, the authors say,

“IN LOOKING over the completed chapters of this volume, that which seems to stand out clearest, even where our first aim has been to record achievements and labors, is the personal character of Governor Aycock. It is well if this is true. It is, in our opinion, not his greatest distinction that he was at one time Governor of North Carolina and one of the greatest of our Governors, nor yet that he was a leader in a great revolution that established the political supremacy of the white race in North Carolina, and in another revolution that made universal education forever ‘a matter of course instead of a matter of debate’ in the Commonwealth. His greatest distinction is rather that he was the most beloved North Carolinian of his generation.”

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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