Some of our icons don't deserve adoration:
This resistance to reunification was organized by the KKK and in North Carolina led by Saunders. The KKK and the Southern resistance succeeded in defeating Reconstruction, and Saunders was one of the architects of that “victory.”
One of the reasons the UNC trustees named the building after Saunders in 1920 was his leadership in the KKK. There is no doubt about that. So it’s important to recognize the trustees of the university as well as the vast majority of lawyers and judges at that time supported the defeat of Reconstruction and the denial of rights to black citizens. These are the very individuals who should have supported “justice for all” under the United States Constitution and failed to do so.
I know many of my fellow Democrats would prefer to live in the now, and not dig up old racist skeletons from the Party's past. Both parties have flipped, and are now almost exact opposites of what they were back in the 19th Century. But studiously ignoring the past, or (even worse) rationalizing the behavior of historic Democrats, are shallow approaches to dealing with the issue. And don't inspire a great deal of trust the Party has changed that much. As for UNC: Whether it's old ghosts or new ghosts that are haunting you, positive action is the only remedy.