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Charlotte Commission Proposes Renaming Streets With Ties To Confederacy, White Supremacy

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Nick de la Canal/WFAE

A city commission is recommending Charlotte give new names to 10 streets that honor people with ties to slavery, segregation, and the Confederacy.

The draft recommendations were published alongside a survey asking residents to leave their feedback, with commission members saying they will present final recommendations to the City Council later in December after the public has had a chance to weigh in.

The 15-member Legacy Commission was formed by Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles in June amid sustained protests in Charlotte and across the country against police brutality and systemic racism.

The commission recommends the following streets be renamed:

  1. Jefferson Davis Street
  2. West Hill Street
  3. Stonewall Street
  4. Jackson Avenue
  5. Phifer Avenue
  6. Aycock Lane
  7. Barringer Drive
  8. Morrison Boulevard
  9. Governor Morrison Street
  10. Zebulon Avenue

Replacement names for the streets are still to be decided. The commission made some recommendations, such as renaming Stonewall Street from Julius L. Chambers, a local civil rights lawyer who argued the U.S. Supreme Court case Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, which made busing for a racial balance part of school policy.

Chambers also developed the East Independence Plaza office tower at 700 East Stonewall St. on the current location of Walton Plaza. It was one of only a handful of Black-owned office towers anywhere in the U.S. at the time, according to the commission.

Other replacement names up for consideration include:

  1. Dr. Reginald Hawkins
  2. Ishmael Titus
  3. Harry Golden
  4. Count Vincent de Rivafinoli
  5. King Hagler
  6. Kelly Alexander Senior
  7. Annie Alexander
  8. Elizabeth "Libby" Randolph
  9. Elizabeth "Liz" Hair
  10. Gladys Tillett

The commission said the city should establish a new system for naming streets in the future, with a focus on people who had an "important and positive impact on the city, state or nation." It also said no street should be named for a living person, or anyone who has been dead for less than five years.

City leaders and Charlotte residents have occasionally called for streets to be renamed in the past, though few efforts have succeeded.

In 2017, former Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts called for the renaming of Stonewall Street, saying legacies of the Confederacy, including the name of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, should not be in "places of public prominence." However, her calls for a name change never took hold and the issue faded.

More recently, some Charlotte residents have pushed for neighborhoods, businesses, and other living facilities to remove the word "plantation" from their names.

Residents at a senior living facility in Matthews voted overwhelming to change their facility's name from Plantation Estates to Matthews Glen earlier this month, but other neighborhoods like Providence Plantation have kept their names in place.

Also included in the commission's draft recommendations are calls for the city to provide context for a small number of Confederate monuments and markers in uptown Charlotte's Elmwood Cemetery, and to create commemorative spaces across the city that "Charlotteans of all backgrounds who advocated for positive change."

The commission also recommends the city install a memorial commemorating the deaths of two documented lynching victims in Charlotte, Joe McNeely and Willie McDaniel, and create a wall with names of enslaved people who lived in Charlotte.

The public is asked to submit their feedback to the city by Dec. 13, with commissioners planning to present their final recommendations to City Council at its Dec. 14 business meeting.

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