Emory University Professor Pellom McDaniels III passed away on Sunday. The 52-year-old had a successful NFL career, earned his Ph.D. from Emory University, and became the faculty curator of the African American Collections at Emory’s Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library in 2013. In that role, he expanded the library’s acquisitions of African American archives.
Claire Sterk, president of Emory University, first met McDaniels at the beginning of his Ph.D. program in a research methods class she taught.
“He would really challenge sort of people’s logic and the way in which they interpreted data,” Sterk said. “He would make sure that whatever people concluded really was based on reality.”
McDaniels brought what he learned from his time as a professional football player into his academic work.
“He had had to be very analytical and plan ahead and look at the past and see what worked and didn’t work,” Sterk said. “I was amazed to see how he took all those lessons from American football.”
Of McDaniel’s work at Emory’s Rose Library, Sterk said he used his experience as an African American man and as an athlete to curate incredible collections.
“He made all of us, and certainly I am among those people, exposed to the lies told about disenfranchised people, and was very committed to making sure that we all got to understand the reality and the truth,” Sterk said.