UNA Commons Building named after first African American student

UNA Commons Building named after first African American student.

Posted: Mar 14, 2018 5:38 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2018 10:29 AM

The University of North Alabama is renaming a main building on campus after the university's first African American student.

Wendell W. Gunn graduated from Florence State College, which is now UNA, in 1965. He was the first African American student at the school at the height of the Civil Rights movement in a racially divided south. UNA officials said Gunn paved the way for other students at UNA. After he graduated he worked in the Regan administration and now owns his own business.

Wednesday a large crowd gathered at the Commons building to watch it officially be named the Wendall W. Gunn Commons Building.

"We hope by seeing his name on this building people will understand some of the things he had to go through to go to school," said UNA Spokesperson Bryan Rachal. "Especially with today's political climate we wanted to show that we're an open and progressive campus."

Just about every university in the state of Alabama; including UNA, has a building named after David Bibb Graves, a former governor of Alabama who had many accomplishments but also had ties to the Klu Klux Klan. Some students feel like naming the Commons building after Gunn is a step in the right direction.

"I think it's pretty good for them to leave his legacy here. The campus is getting more diverse with all races and it's changing the future," said UNA student, Jared Kent.

Gunn told WAAY 31 it's been a humbling experience to have his name on the building.

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