RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An online petition to change the name of Daniels Magnet Middle School neared 1,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
The petition asks the name be changed as a result of the history behind its namesake.
The school is named after Josephus Daniels. In the late 1800s, he ran the News and Observer newspaper spreading anti-black rhetoric and backed black voter suppression.
It fueled a white-led riot in Wilmington in which several African Americans were killed. The exact number is still debated.
In the petition, the author said, “Josephus Daniels is not a name that should be honored on a school building — and no student should receive a publicly-funded education under the banner and glorification of white supremacy. By now we know better and can do better.”
Click here to read more of the petition.
Lizzie Hulls lives just across the street from the middle school. She said she’d never realized the history of the school’s name until she spoke with CBS 17.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of debate whether a change happens,” Hull said.
The name change is in the hands of the Wake County Board of Education which is now looking into the debate.
“We had some conversations among board members about that. We do not have a task force or anything of that nature. We will be discussing that very soon working with staff,” Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Cathy Moore said.
School board member Keith Sutton said he wasn’t sure there would be a formal process to discuss or make the change.
“Personally, I do think we should make a decision to change the name moving forward but again I’m just one decision. It takes the nine of us as a board. But, personally, I do think the name should be changed,” Sutton said
Hull said it was important to have serious community conversations regarding the history of buildings named after controversial figures.
“I think it really depends on the place and the area and what kind of an impact that certain place is having on its city and its surrounding,” Hull said.
The Wilmington race riots also inspired a petition to change the name of a popular park in Wilmington. A petition with more than 12,000 supporters at last check asked for a change in Hugh MacRae Park’s for controversy over Hugh MacRae.
The petition’s author said, “In 1898, he was a leader in the conspiracy to overthrow the legitimately elected black-white fusionist leadership of Wilmington, North Carolina. MacRae organized the white supremacist mob and campaign that kept blacks from the poles during the 1898 election and then led a vigilante group, along with Alfred Waddell, that took to the streets in Wilmington to murder blacks the next day.”
Click here to read more about those efforts.
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