Daniels Hall should not be named after a supremacist

This article was originally written and submitted as a guest-column for N.C State University’s newspaper The Technician on 18 Oct. 2019; the original article was published on 21 Oct. 2019.

UPDATE: Another article supporting my point was written recently by Destry Adams

FINAL UPDATE: The name of this hall has been changed officially by the N.C. State Board of Trustees! (Technician / ABC-11 / WRAL)

On N.C. State’s North campus there is a certain Daniels Hall, opened in 1926, which is named for Josephus Daniels, a champion of white supremecy and a charter member of N.C. State’s Watauga Club.

Daniels Hall is not the only building associated with a controversial figure: recently, official signage and material regarding D.H. Hill Library has been changed to refer to the library as “D.H. Hill Jr. Library” in an active rebranding campaign by the University to more verbosely affirm that the library is named for the son of Daniel Harvey Hill Snr., not the Confederate general himself.

The move to rebrand the library seems to stem from a Technician article authored by Ishan Ravan in the February 2nd, 2014 issue titled “Rename D.H. Hill Library”; the notion is suggested by Ishan that the actions we take now (regarding the name of the library at the time) may “also raise the question about the extent to which embedded racism prevails at N.C. State.” However, Ishan notes, the library has always been named after Daniel Harvey Hill Jr.

Daniels Hall, on the other hand, is explicitly named in honor of a historial North Carolina figure, long-time editor for the News & Observer and outspoken late-19th century white supremacist Josephus Daniels.

Daniels, holding many influential political offices in his day and having vested interest (by way of his publishing and his editorial positions) in N.C. politics, personally challenged the Black population at the polls on Election Day by having voters (quoted in his own words) “stand in the middle of a ring with scores of people looking on and read parts of the constitution” and that “after a dozen had made the attempt and failed, the other uneducated Negroes did not seek to vote.” (“Josephus Daniels: His Life and Times”, pg. 200)

Furthermore Daniels used his position as chief-editor and publisher at the News & Observer as a platform to give every story and column that ran across his desk a flair of anti-Black sentiment: in 1898 he “published the details of every crime, as if it were the inevitable product of black corruption or Fusionist incompetence” in Wilmington; he came to see this city as a symbol of Black domination as its governing body was irritatingly biracial. (“Josephus Daniels: His Life and Times”, pg. 184)

Wilmington soon became a battleground because of the the race-baiting efforts of Daniels and other powerful, controversial figures like N.C. governor Charles B. Aycock. This “race-baiting” fueled the infamous “1898 Wilmington Insurrection” which resulted in the deaths of several Blacks in Wilmington and concluded with the ousting of influential Black municipality leaders and the arson of the publishing office of the local paper, the Daily Record.

Because of the supremacist history of Josephus Daniels I call upon the University and its student body to demand the immediate renaming of Daniels hall; I recommend the name “Howler Hall” as a general alternative to naming the building in honor of a notable figure of the late-19th century supremacist movement in North Carolina, even in the face of his (influential) charter-membership in the founding Watauga Club at N.C. State.