Black and Carolina Blue Tour site highlights Black History at UNC-Chapel Hill

February 14, 2023

For more than 20 years, the Black and Blue Tour has introduced students and visitors to local histories of slavery, racism, memorialization and activism at UNC-Chapel Hill. Now, the University Libraries has released a revised Black and Carolina Blue Tour website, with updated and expanded entries for each tour stop.

The new site is part of the Library’s efforts to collect, preserve and share campus history.

“The Black and Carolina Blue Tour website is an essential supplement to other campus history sources,” said University Archivist Nicholas Graham. “It’s impossible to truly understand the history of UNC-Chapel Hill without learning about slavery, white supremacy and Black resistance.”

The original tour was created as a walking tour of key sites connected with Black History at Carolina and Chapel Hill. The Library developed a companion virtual exhibit, including tour excerpts and additional information.

Work to revise the tour website began in 2020 as part of efforts to evaluate and revise campus history materials offered by the University Libraries.

“So much of what we know about campus history is thanks to the primary source materials at Wilson Library and the work of the library and archives staff at Carolina,” said vice provost for University libraries and University librarian María R. Estorino. “The new tour site is one way we can make this history more approachable and accessible for our entire community.”

The updated content was developed by Graham and NC Research and Instructional Librarian Sarah Carrier, as well as graduate assistant Allison Ruvidich. The project received a University Libraries IDEA Action grant which provided funding to work with community stakeholders who reviewed the first draft of the revised site and provided feedback and suggestions.

“Students were really the inspiration for this work,” said Graham. “We’d heard from many students over the years who expressed frustration that information about campus history — especially Black history — was not more readily accessible.”

“The tour’s content, history and perspective are imperative for telling the story of UNC-Chapel Hill, but its online presence needed updating,” added Carrier. “The University Libraries had an opportunity to replace outdated online content with something fresh and current and to ensure the longevity of the content as an ongoing Library project.”

The revised website uses a new design and includes expanded entries with additional information, references and suggestions for further reading.

“We provided vetted citations for further research so that the online tour can be a source of quality information, explained Carrier. “We wanted to explicitly connect sources from the tour back to primary sources and model ways of doing research of this nature.”

Even with all of this new information, the website is not intended to replace the walking tour but to serve as a basic introduction, reference source and starting place for research and discovery.

“Our goal is to not only inform and answer questions about Carolina’s history but also to inspire new work and new thinking about what engaging with our institution’s history can look like,” said Carrier.

Story by Jacob Thompson