Visualizing UNC’s Troubled Past

Students frequently refer to it as “The Southern Part Of Heaven," but the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's leafy campus memorializes some of the state's most troubled racial history.

unc campus
UNC's main quad on a sunny afternoon. From the UNC Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Campus Map

As UNC has grown it has extended southward, but the modern-day center of campus is also the oldest section: the two leafy quads between Franklin Street and South Road, referred to as North Campus. This central and most picturesque part of campus has the highest concentration of buildings named for racist historical figures, as the map below shows.

legendBuilding Name with Racist Historical Associations legendBuilding Name with Historical Associations of Racial Justice legendBuilding Name with Ambigious Historical Racial Associations
legendBuilding Name without Historical Racial Associations
unc campus map

How Far Away are Different Kinds of History?

In the graphic on the right, the divergent lines represent the relative distances of a selection of UNC's buildings from the Old Well, a structure that is at the physical and symbolic heart of campus.

Hover over the map below to find the location of each building.

unc campus map
legendBuilding Name with Racist Historical Associations
legendBuilding Name with Historical Associations of Racial Justice
legendBuilding Name with Ambigious Historical Racial Associations
legendBuilding Name without Historical Racial Associations
distance from old well chart

Putting Faces to the Names

Click through the timeline below to learn about the individuals memorialized in the names of the buildings listed above.

Construction Through the Years

The University has grown exponentially since its founding in 1789, and the names chosen for new buildings in different eras have reflected the values of those times. However, while the number of new buildings named for racists have decreased over time, the percentage named for icons of racial justice has not risen correspondingly.

pie charts pie charts pie charts pie charts pie charts
legendBuilding Name with Racist Historical Associations legendBuilding Name with Historical Associations of Racial Justice legendBuilding Name with Ambigious Historical Racial Associations
legendBuilding Name without Historical Racial Associations