In addition to the well documented racism experienced by black students during the era of integration, Lenoir Hall was also a site where many black residents of Chapel Hill worked. While much is made of the desegregation of UNC in the 1950s, there have always been a large number of black people working in and for the university; from the enslaved men who built the early structures, the “waiters” who served the students, the black barber on Franklin Street, the women who cleaned and cooked for the students, to the dissection assistants (and some of the cadavers dissected); there have been many black bodies on the UNC Campus. In 1968, the Black Student movement helped organize a workers strike (90% of the employees did not come to work) to deal with issues of poor pay and treatment for the (mostly) black employees. The Governor (Robert Scott) put the Highway Patrol and the National Guard on alert to keep Lenoir open and to prevent the spread of the “troubles.”
For more information on the food workers’ strike in Lenoir Hall please see the Southern Historical Collection’s online exhibit titled, I Raised My Hand to Volunteer: Student Protests in 1960s Chapel Hill.