The promise of a ready audience and a tolerance for free speech on campus has long made the Pit a popular location for preaching. The "pit preachers" are usually evangelical Christians seeking to educate, chastise, or convert passing students. Many are noted for their fiery rhetoric, not to mention their powerful voices. Arguing with the preacher is a favorite pastime of students, and a crowd often gathers to mock, dispute, or simply listen. While there have been many different preachers on campus, the best known and most persistent is Gary Birdsong, an itinerant preacher who travels to schools around North Carolina (at North Carolina State he is known as the Brickyard Preacher). A fixture in the Pit since the early 1980s, Birdsong's deep voice resonates across campus, and his inflammatory descriptions of the sinful lives of college students ("Homo Hill" is his nickname for Chapel Hill) are a fixture of his confrontational style. He was banned from the Pit by campus police for two years in 2007 after refusing to leave when the space was reserved by a student group. He spoke elsewhere on campus and promptly returned to the Pit as soon as the ban expired.
Date Established: 1980
Date Range: 1980 – 2020