On Tuesday morning, workers removed a statue of former News & Observer publisher and white supremacist Josephus Daniels from Nash Square on Tuesday morning. The removal came at the request of family members of Daniels.
A crane uprooted the 12-foot, several-thousand-pound statue from its perch at the edge of the park, which sits directly across the street from city hall, and wheeled it away in under two hours, according to the N&O.
Daniels purchased the newspaper in 1894 and used it as a platform to promote white supremacist propaganda, helping to incite the 1898 Wilmington riots with “race-baiting” stories, according to journalist David Zucchino’s book, Wilmington’s Lie. The overthrow of Wilmington’s then-mixed race government resulted in the murder of at least 60 African Americans.
On September 24, 1985, the statue was erected by the Josephus Daniels Charitable Foundation. Daniel’s descendants maintained ownership of the paper until it was sold to McClatchy in 1995.
Unlike other monuments to white supremacists which have been forcibly toppled by protesters, most notably UNC-Chapel Hill’s Silent Sam, the statue of Daniels was taken away unscathed.
Many were glad to see it gone.
“I think it’s a great step and would like to see that happen more around Raleigh,” said Greear Webb, a young Black organizer with Raleigh Demands Justice. “It’s a great step in advancing toward becoming an anti-racist society in America and especially in Raleigh.”
Webb, who has been on the front lines of police brutality protests the last few weeks, suggested the statues be replaced with memorials of prominent African Americans.
Daniels’ grandson, Frank Daniels Jr., told the N&O he hoped his grandfather’s legacy as a successful newspaper entrepreneur wouldn’t be overshadowed by his “bigoted beliefs,” while great-grandson Frank Daniels III said that “the time is right” to take the statue down.
“I don’t think anyone would say that it’s not the appropriate time to move the statue of Josephus to a more appropriate location,” he told the N&O Tuesday.
Webb hopes the statue’s removal will be coupled “with substantial policy change at the state and city levels so we don’t continue to perpetuate the mindset of those who are memorialized in statue.”
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