Residents of the Historic Charles B. Aycock neighborhood have decided to change its name. The new name is Dunleath, named for an 1857 mansion built on a farm that covered essentially all of what is now the neighborhood.
The name of the home is spelled two ways in historical records (Dunleith and Dunleath); the residents will make a final decision on the spelling later [Update 4/4/2017: They chose Dunleath.]. Just removing Aycock’s name was difficult enough. For those not familiar with North Carolina history, Charles B. Aycock was governor from 1901 to 1905. He was revered throughout the 20th century as “the Education Governor” because of his support for public education, including education for African Americans. Schools and related buildings all over the state were named in his honor.
Largely overlooked until recent years was Aycock’s fervent support of white supremacy and denial of rights to African Americans. He didn’t just share the prejudices of his time; he was a leader and force in promoting segregation and eliminating voting rights for black North Carolinians (His words: “We recognize and provide for the God-given and hereditary superiority of the white man.”).
In recent years, Aycock’s name has been disappearing all over North Carolina. UNCG has taken it off its campus auditorium, for example, and Duke has taken it off a dormitory. The Guilford County Schools renamed Aycock Middle School, from which the neighborhood took its name (the school is now named for Melvin C. Swann Jr., a longtime school administrator).
The renaming still leaves the neighborhood with two names. While Aycock was chosen when the neighborhood’s local historic district was organized in 1984, its nomination for the National Register of Historic Places, just a few years later, called it the Summit Avenue Historic District. Actually, it will have three names until enough years have passed that Greensboro gets out of the habit of calling it Aycock.
Acknowledgement: The learned Professor David Wharton provides a detailed look at the history of the neighborhood’s name on his blog, which provided some of the information above.