What’s in a name? A lot to unpack, in the case of the namesake of N.C. Central University’s Hoey Administration Building and surrounding circle, Clyde R. Hoey.
There has been contention on North Carolina Central University’s campus around the Clyde R. Hoey Administration Building. From 1937-1941, Clyde Hoey served as North Carolina’s Governor. Known for his contributions to the University, in an effort to promote segregation in institutions of learning and higher education, the name continues to bring negative feedback from students attending the HBCU in Durham, North Carolina.
Last year, NCCU Political Science major, Ajamu Dillahunt-Holloway, started a petition on Change.org for renaming one of the campus’ prominent buildings. In the petition’s description, Dillahunt-Holloway quotes Hoey post the Brown v. Board of Education opinion, where he states: “North Carolina does not believe in social equality between the races and will not tolerate mixed schools for the races.” The petition quickly picked up speed with over 2,000 signatures from university students, along with many supporting comments as to why they added their names to the list, and feedback from those supporting from a distance.
Some of these comments included the (psychological) effects and attitudes towards having NCCU’s administration building named after the former Durham Governor. One comment, from a Charles Freeman states: “Monuments and building names are for those we honor. History belongs in textbooks and museums.” Following his comment is another that states: “Doing the right thing is key. Change is necessary to move forward,” (Terry Lanessa). And as history goes on, tending to repeat itself, students push for a new year that does not, with a new name on the building. With this petition not only did the students have support from each other, but local universities. Karen Wall, a student from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University states, “I support the Eagle (emoji) fam. Love, your Aggie sister.”
Earlier this month, students were interviewed and provided their statements about the building. Junior and Business Administration Major, Nathan Corley, states: “I definitely think that Central should change the name to something more uplifting… You [all] said he was racist right, was racist- I wouldn’t want to walk around a building knowing that I’m not accepted, or this isn’t the place for me. So, to answer your question, yes; I feel like now, knowing that, we should change the name.”
Outside of the Hoey Administration Building in “the Hoey Circle,” a roundabout filled with parking spaces for University officials and pass holders, a group of students were interviewed in front of the tall, mounted statue of James Shephard, centered in the middle of the Circle. One of the students, Freshman Zy’nia Simms states: “I think that they should definitely change the name, because it’s not what NCCU stands for. But I don’t think it will cause any psychological problems for the students.” Another one of the students, Psychology major Marqia Gaskins hailing from D.C., class of 2022, didn’t know about the Hoey Circle as a Freshman, but now knowing about the history of the name and how it stands within the University states: “we’re an HBCU for one, and if we’re standing for people who were racist and putting us down, we shouldn’t have a name on a building named after them, especially on our campus.” Another question was raised as to what the building could be named instead, and Simms suggested that “maybe it could be named after the Chancellor who passed away,” agreeing that her name and her legacy properly represent the institution.
Students are both in the know, and out of the loop when it comes to discussion of the Hoey Building/ Circle. As for all of the students interviewed, it appears a name change is important and necessary. Only time will tell who will get involved in the push for a new name for the Hoey Building, and in what direction admin decides to move in.