The independent news organization of Duke University

Sanford School replaces KKK photo with picture of Terry Sanford

As conversation around the propriety of the Carr Building's name grows on campus, a quiet change was made Wednesday morning in the Sanford School of Public Policy's halls.

A photo depicting the Ku Klux Klan with a Confederate flag at a 1963 civil rights rally in Greensboro was taken down. It was replaced with a photo of former Duke President Terry Sanford, the school's namesake, meeting with civil rights protesters outside of an event.

The decision for the change was made by Judith Kelley, who took over as the school's dean July 1. The KKK-containing image depicted an event that Sanford was not present at and was being used as an illustration for the times Sanford worked in, Kelley wrote in an email to the Sanford community.

The exchange took place around 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, she told The Chronicle.

"Over time, many members of our community have raised concerns that daily exposure to this image in their place of work and study has been deeply troubling for them. This matter has been raised in our town hall meetings and subsequent conversations I have had with a range of students, faculty and staff," she wrote in an email to the Sanford community Wednesday afternoon. "After careful consideration, I have decided that the photo should be replaced with a different image that more directly illustrates Terry Sanford’s courageous role as a civil rights champion during the early 1960s."

Kelley said she had been "rolling around" the issue of the photo's placement in the building's lobby, where it was part of the standing exhibit on Terry Sanford.

"I was ready to move on it," the new dean told The Chronicle Wednesday night.

She said that there are no other similar issues within the Sanford School that she is currently aware of, but if there are she is open to addressing them. Kelley said that she hopes the decision shows it is possible to have a complicated and caring conversation about these things, without having to make trade-offs.

"I believe this action maintains the original learning objective while removing a barrier that undermined the inclusivity we strive for," she wrote in the email. "I urge all members of the Sanford community to remain committed to learning and educating others about Terry Sanford’s pioneering attempts to end white supremacy, and to understanding and addressing the structural inequalities and racism that remain to this day."

The print of the photo—the original of which is in the state archives, Kelley said—is being kept in an office until they make a copy of it to be put online.

This is not the first time in recent years a controversial spot of memory was removed from the halls of the Sanford School of Public Policy. 

In December 2017, the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy revoked the Futrell Award it had given to alum Charlie Rose, CBS anchor, after reports emerged that he had sexually harassed women throughout his career. His name was removed from the plaque of Futrell Award winners on the same floor as where Wednesday's photo was taken down. 

A QR code will soon be added to the text that accompanies the new picture, which passerby will be able to use to see the old one. 

But as of Wednesday night, only a pink sticky note marked the change.

"New text panel on the way soon," it said.

Bre Bradham contributed reporting.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Sanford School replaces KKK photo with picture of Terry Sanford” on social media.