The List: 4 Greensboro things named for segregationist Aycock

1
40
Photo via NC History Project
Photo via NC History Project

by Eric Ginsburg

1. The auditorium

A subcommittee of UNCG’s board held its first meeting to consider renaming Aycock Auditorium last week, and with good reason (see more here). The longstanding auditorium is named for segregationist North Carolina governor Charles B. Aycock, who supported black disenfranchisement and campaigned on white supremacy. Aycock is also considered to have been an education governor, dramatically expanding free, public (segregated) education. In 1928, a committee of alums recommended naming the auditorium after Aycock based on his support for the school and public education more broadly.

 2. The school

Aycock Middle School, founded in 1922 just 10 years after the former governor’s death, was the first thing in Greensboro to be named for the man, preceding the auditorium at UNCG (then known as the North Carolina College for Women). The middle school’s website says: “His greatest achievements in the field of education included increasing teachers’ salaries, extending the school terms, and building close to 3,000 schools,” adding that Aycock is now the home to the city’s first Spanish immersion middle school program. Today the school is 65 percent black, 12 percent Latino, and only 10 percent white.

 3. The road

Aycock Street has been around since 1924 or 1925 — the city isn’t sure of the exact date at which it changed the name of Dairy Street — and it is now a major north-south thoroughfare just west of UNCG’s campus. Its users may be more familiar with obvious crude jokes based on the name than the man behind it.

4. The neighborhood

Aycock Historic District, a neighborhood just northeast of downtown Greensboro, chose its name based on the pre-existing middle school within its borders. “The neighborhood approached the city about local historic district designation in the early [1980s] and the area was ultimately designated in 1984,” city preservation planner Stefan-leih Geary said via email. But the neighborhood is now trying to distance itself from its segregationist namesake — city mapping specialist and neighborhood board member Brian Gillies said they are currently removing “Charles B.” from all signage, making the Aycock name more ambiguous. And the neighborhood association’s website appears to contain no direct mention of the man, despite its slogan reading, “History matters.”

  • Jacque

    What’s next? Are we going to take down all the signage that commemorates Civil War sites in Greensboro? It is stupid to change the names on EVERYTHING that is, and was, a part of Greensboro, based on the ideology of that person, who also did many good things for the city. Are we going to take down Viet Nam War memorials, because a disproportionate number of black men were drafted, and killed in Viet Nam? Or take down WWII memorials, because we had segregated troops? It’s HISTORY, get over it! Those people fought and died for their country, or contributed to their city, which is a lot more than we, this generation, can say. All we seem to do is cause controversy where no controversy needs to exist!