The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History is home to Carolina's research, outreach, cultural, and service programs related to the study of the African American, diaspora, and African experiences. Designed by award-winning African American architect Philip Freelon, the building, which opened in 2004, is situated in a wooded area near the bell tower. It includes a gallery and museum exhibit space, a library, and an auditorium, as well as office and seminar spaces. Its existence is a testament to the determination of a coalition of students, alumni, faculty, and staff who urged the university to build the center and who supported it with private gifts. The majority of the $10 million needed to complete the building came from private donations from alumni and other supporters.
The Stone Center was established in 1988 as the Black Cultural Center, housed in the Graham Student Union. As it grew in popularity, so did calls for a freestanding building, especially after Dr. Stone's death in 1991. The university's chancellor initially opposed the idea, which sparked large student protests. Critical to the protest was the Black Awareness Council, a group of African American student athletes who brought more attention to the cause. After reading about the protests in the New York Times, filmmaker Spike Lee came to UNC, where he addressed a crowd of more than 7,000 people in the Dean Smith Center. The chancellor and board eventually agreed to support a freestanding center and in 1993 selected the location. The center's name was changed in 2002 to the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History to mark its newly expanded mission and to emphasize its campus wide mandate to explore, research and support African American and diaspora arts, cultures and histories.
Dr. Sonja Haynes Stone came to Chapel Hill in 1974 to direct the Curriculum in African and Afro-American Studies as an assistant professor and became associate professor in 1984. She was the founder of the Southeastern Black Press Institute and was an advocate for the African American rights movement. At Carolina she also was the adviser to the Black Student Movement and was active in expanding the Afro-American studies curriculum. She was the first recipient of the Alumni Association's Outstanding Black Faculty Award.
Date Established: 2002
Date Range: 2002 – Present