Daniels Clears Its Name

ISE’s current home no longer has a name. The NC State University Board of Trustees has approved removing the name “Daniels Hall” from the building at 111 Lampe Drive. This decision is a response to outcries from alumni and a petition by students. The petition requested that the building’s name be changed due to the dark past of its namesake, Josephus Daniels.

Daniels’ History Lesson

The history of 111 Lampe Drive began in 1926 when it was the home of the Electrical Engineering and Physics Departments. It eventually became the home of the ISE Department in 2007. However, it will soon be emptied as ISE is moving to Fitts-Woolard Hall on Centennial Campus in the fall. After ISE moves out, it will be renovated and renamed by the University once it has new tenants.

In 1938, the building was named after Josephus Daniels, a charter member of the Watauga Club. The club attracted a youthful membership intensely interested in the economic and social betterment of North Carolina. Their most successful goal was chartering North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, later known as NC State University. However, while Daniels helped establish the University, the actions and values of Daniels do not align with the views of NC State University. Instead, they serve as a shameful reminder of NC State’s dark history.

Before the Civil War, Wilmington, North Carolina was a beacon of freedom and prosperity for freedmen due to its large black community. Because of this, tensions rose between the local Wilmington government and the state. Ultimately these tensions culminated into a coup against the democratically elected officials of the city by white supremacists led by Josephus Daniels.

Daniels rallied 2000 white men and marched into the city. They forcibly expelled the opposition’s political leaders. They also murdered an estimated 60 to 300 people and destroyed the homes and businesses that Black Americans had built up since the Civil War, including the only black newspaper in the city, The Daily Record. Afterward, Daniels’s cohort Alfred Moore Waddell became the mayor of Wilmington, placing the city under white supremacist control. The after-effects of this event were felt throughout the South, leading to an era of more severe racial segregation and disenfranchisement for black communities.

What’s Next?

The building will not be renamed immediately as its future inhabitants are unknown. NC State’s Chancellor Randy Woodson stated that they will defer renaming until after renovations are completed and they better understand how the building will be used. Woodson explained, “Today’s decision by the board is an important step forward for our campus and our community. However, there is much more that needs to be done at NC State to cultivate a campus environment where all Black students, faculty and staff feel safe, supported, respected and valued.”