On June 22, after years of backlash and criticism, the NC State Board of Trustees finally decided to rename Daniels Hall, combatting the historical upholding of known racist Josephus Daniels. We as an editorial board support the decision to rename Daniels Hall. It is moral, long-overdue and the right decision to make.
However, renaming Daniels Hall is simply not enough.
Multiple buildings on campus commemorate the lives of racists, and it’s past time we start looking to replace those names. We cannot combat racism if it remains engraved into our environment, and we as an editorial board demand all racially-biased building names be changed.
Outside of Daniels Hall, there are a number of buildings on campus that honor racists.
Daniel Augustus Tompkins argued that the emancipation of slavery brought about anarchy. Tompkins Hall is named after him.
Alexander Q. Holladay served as a colonel for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Holladay Hall is named after him.
Clarence Hamilton Poe was a social Darwinist who believed segregation was crucial to society. Poe Hall is named after him.
All of these individuals were awarded a spot of historical remembrance despite their heinous acts against the Black community. Students are never educated on the history of these names, and their commemoration only acts to further brush aside racial injustice.
For years, students at NC State have disapproved of naming campus buildings after racists. NC State has a continuous history of racist acts on campus, and these buildings only serve to uphold the atmosphere of systemic racism in both our Wolfpack community and across the nation. For a university who claims to uphold diversity to such a high esteem that it asks incoming students about its importance during the application process, NC State licks the boot of white supremacy by only choosing to rename Daniels Hall.
Choosing to uphold the names of white supremacists with our campus buildings is not only antithetical to NC State’s message, but an active work of historical erasure. Countless people of color on campus have shown excellence and virtuosity in both the past and present. Here are some examples of exemplary Black students, faculty and staff who deserve more recognition than shameless racists:
Robert Clemons and Hardy Liston were the first Black graduate students at NC State. Clemons became the NC State’s first Black graduate, was valedictorian as an undergrad at Elizabeth City State Teachers College and served in the military during World War II. Liston taught at the historically Black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University while studying at NC State, but ultimately chose to leave graduate school to continue to serve his Black students at N.C. A&T.
Norma Wright Garcia was the first Black woman to earn an undergraduate degree at NC State. Garcia went on to help rural communities in North Carolina by becoming a teacher and mentor at various high schools.
Justina Harris Williams was the first Black person hired into the NC State academic staff as a research technician in the Genetics Program. Williams retired 30 years later as the head research technician in 1988.
Dorothy Williams was the first Black instructor at NC State, serving in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology as a professor.
Tony Williamson founded Nubian Message and served as its first editor-in-chief. Williamson founded Nubian to give Black students a platform after the racially biased content Technician published regarding the coverage of the African American Cultural Center and the Black Awareness Council.
Kevin Howell was the first Black student body president at NC State University, and attempted to address racial discrimination found on campus during his presidency. Howell now serves as the vice chancellor for external affairs, partnerships and economic development.
These are only some examples of the hundreds of excellent Black alumni NC State sparingly recognizes. Only Holmes Hall and Witherspoon Student Center stand to commemorate Black history at NC State against a backdrop of racist buildings, and it’s about time they don’t have to stand against anything at all.
Renaming racist buildings will not automatically solve racism on campus, but it is a step in the right direction. It is a symbol of justice against intolerance, and the embracing of a progressive, diverse community. Dismantling white supremacy starts with action, and NC State needs to commit to holding itself accountable. The NC State Board of Trustees needs to include more than just Daniels Hall in its renaming decision.
It is our job to also hold the University accountable. To our fellow members of the Wolfpack community, sign petitions asking for these buildings to be renamed. Contact university administration and demand for change. Spread awareness about the issue at hand to your peers and get them to join the cause. Progressing from a shamefully racist past should not be argued as an inconvenience. The university should be proud to honor Black success in opposition to white hate.
This unsigned editorial is the opinion of Technician’s editorial board and is the responsibility of the editor-in-chief.