NC State students respond to Daniels Hall being renamed

Posted June 22, 2020 10:58 a.m. EDT
Updated June 23, 2020 6:42 a.m. EDT

— Crews removed signs outside Daniels Hall at North Carolina State University 90 minutes before the Board of Trustees unanimously voted Monday to rename the building honoring a white supremacist.

The building was originally named after Josephus Daniels, the former editor of The News & Observer, who was known for using his influence to push his white supremacist views, including stirring up the 'Wilmington Massacre' in 1898. As many as 300 Black residents were killed and Black-owned businesses burned.

"Daniels Hall was named in 1938 for his support of N.C. State's engineering program, in particularly electrical engineering, which was housed in Daniels Hall for many years," said Chancellor Dr. Randy Woodson. "He served as a member of the Watauga Club that played a critical role in the founding of N.C. State, and he served as a trustee."

"However, we know that Josephus Daniels had strong ties to white supremacy and used the platform of the Raleigh N&O to promote the values of white supremacy."

Woodson also brought up Daniels' role in the Wilmington riots, saying, "We understand now better than ever, his leading role in the 1898 'Wilmington Massacre.'"

"A building named in his honor is in direct opposition to the values of N.C. state," said Woodson.

This name change comes on the heels of the removal of Daniels' statue from Nash Square in downtown Raleigh, as well as the Wake County school board's decision to change the name of Daniels Middle School to Oberlin Middle School.

NC State students and the Daniels family respond to the change

Woodson said the 'Daniels' name on the campus building served as a constant reminder of North Carolina's history.

Several students spoke to WRAL news, supporting the decision to change the building's name.

Syon Chand, a junior at NCSU, said, "It’s kind of messed up that he had a building named after him in the first place but I think that’s kind of the legacy we have."

Some students said the decision is long overdue.

Cole Clanahan, an NCSU senior, said, "We are in a southern state so it’s really nice that NC State and the Carolina system are really listening to the students and are hopefully moving in a positive direction."

Chancellor Randy Woodson applauded the Daniels family for their courage in supporting the decision — which could be the impetus for even more change. The board said the Daniels family has worked hard for generations to serve the Raleigh community and overcome Josephus' legacy through their combined good work.

Josephus Daniels’ great grandson, Frank Daniels, said the name change “makes perfect sense," and they understand the decision.

The Daniels family led the charge in removing the statue of Josephus from Nash Square.

"We want NC State to be the most successful institution it can possibly be and if having the Daniels name gets in the way of that success then NC State should take the appropriate action," Frank Daniels said.

Chancellor Woodson asked the trustees to hold off on naming the building until it can be renovated and the university decides how the building will be used in the future. ​

As for why the signs were removed before the Board of Trustees vote, a spokesman for the university said, "facility staff were asked to be on standby ... [It] sounds like maybe there was confusion on timing."

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