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Name Change!! Oberlin Middle School

Board Votes to Change Name of Daniels Middle School to Oberlin Middle School

On Tuesday, the Wake County Board of Education voted to change the name of Daniels Middle School to Oberlin Middle School.

 

The school had been named for former newspaper publisher Josephus Daniels, who used his position to help fellow white supremacists violently overthrow a duly elected, multi-racial government in Wilmington in 1898. 

 

It now will be named for the nearby Oberlin Village historic district, a place where prosperous and influential African-Americans thrived for many decades following the Civil War.

 

“In the wake of the senseless death of George Floyd and so many others before him, there is a call for true racial justice in this country, louder and more insistent than we have heard since the the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s,” said Keith Sutton, chair of the Wake County Board of Education. “Changing the name of a school is purely symbolic. But I hope it signals our commitment as a school district to confront the wrongs of the past, and to work harder than ever to undo them.”

 

About Oberlin Village
According to “History of Oberlin Village” by M. Ruth Little, the settlement along present-day Oberlin Road, about two miles west of the State Capitol, began when some white families at the end of the Civil War sold home sites to former slaves at the end of the Civil War.

 

It was further developed by James H. Harris, who was born a slave in Granville County before receiving an apprenticeship as an upholsterer, securing his freedom and moving to Raleigh in 1849 to ply his trade. He faced racial oppression in Raleigh, so he moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1856, where he studied at Oberlin College for several years, then lived in Canada aiding fugitive slaves who managed to reach freedom through the Underground Railroad. 

 

He returned to Raleigh following the Civil War, serving as a Raleigh City Alderman and a state legislator for many years.

 

Harris founded the Wake Land and Building Association and the Raleigh Cooperative Land and Building Association, which loaned money to a number of black families in Oberlin Village to build houses. “Residents of the new village named it Oberlin, generally believed to have been chosen because of James Harris’s connection to Oberlin College, associated with freedom and educational opportunities,” Little wrote.