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US uni honours slave-poet

india Updated: Feb 14, 2007 19:44 IST
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A dormitory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been named for a black slave who became a published poet.

The George Moses Horton Residence Hall, dedicated on day, is the first building at the university named after a slave. Horton, who lived from 1798 to 1883, would recite love poems for students who bought them for their sweethearts. He later became the first black man in the South to publish a book of poetry. Horton's themes included the cruelty of slavery, Civil War-era politicians and campus life.

Chancellor James Moeser and a few of Horton's descendants were on hand for the ceremony at the 276-bed dorm. They unveiled three plaques with Horton's biography and two of his poems, which will be hung in the dorm's lobby.

"I think George Moses would be very amazed and emotional to see this," said Marion Horton, whose great-great grandfather is thought to have been a brother, cousin or nephew of George Moses Horton. Horton's poetry is still taught today, and officials said Horton is one of the most distinguished authors with ties to the university and the state.

"It is well past time for this university to honour our native son, and to help ensure that, at least within the Carolina family, he is a known and honoured hero," said Nelson Schwab, chairman of the university's Board of Trustees.

Horton read discarded spelling books and learned to write with help from a professor's wife. He sat in on classes at UNC Chapel Hill but remained a slave until the Civil War's end in 1865.

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