By Ademar Barrera
Berkeley, CA–The former Moses Hall building was stripped of its name due to racist beliefs tied to former history professor Bernard Moses.
On Feb. 7, 2023, UC Berkeley campus removed lettering from Moses Hall after the re-evaluation of its historic significance. In a letter from Dec. 5, 2022, Chancellor Carol Christ wrote to UC President Michael Drake that “removing the Moses name from our campus – and acknowledging our historical ties to Bernard Moses – will help Berkeley recognize a challenging part of our history.” This comes as a result of re-examining the professor’s career and beliefs.
Bernard Moses was “a professor of economic, history and jurisprudence courses for 15 years shortly after UC Berkeley’s establishment.” Christ acknowledged professor Moses’ significance to the early years of the UC campus and how he played an important role shaping Berkeley’s foundation from the start. “He created and chaired the Department of History and Political Science in 1883.” Moses’ trajectory and significant contributions to Political and Economic studies granted him recognition on campus, which followed his previous immortalization as a historically influential figure on campus.
The Moses lettering removal came about after revising his work. “His writings include expressions of racism and white supremacist views,” claims Christ. Given that Moses’ research focused on “Hispanic economic history from the perspective of Latin America peoples,” the controversial remarks in Moses’ work did not go unnoticed by Christ in the letter. The professor’s racist views pose a threat to the students and staff of color on campus, and maintaining the building’s name goes against current UC Berkeley values of “inclusion and… diversity,” says Christ.
As a result of the findings, UC President Michael Drake yielded to Christ’s letter and approved the removal of Moses’ name from the building, along with its complimentary parking lot, on Jan. 13, 2023, as listed on the UC Berkeley official website. As of today, the building formerly named after the History professor is temporarily being referred to as “Philosophy Hall,” where Philosophy and Government, International, European, and Middle Eastern studies take place.
Ademar Barrera is a writer for the Vanguard at Berkeley’s Social Justice Desk. He is studying English.