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Move to change the racially-charged name of creek

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UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

A new apology has come over a body of water in Union County
 
Months after we discovered the creek's offensive name on government documents, another arm of the federal government says it is sorry for this major mistake.

We've also learned a new push is underway to finally get the name "Negro Head Creek" erased for good.

Some modern day maps designate the stream by its proper name of Salem Creek, but a current paper trail of local, state and federal documents still refer to the waters by an offensive term.

Despite repeated efforts, the offensive title of Negro Head Creek has yet to go away.

State Representative Kelly Alexander is writing new legislation in an attempt to have the past name removed from all state documents.

"We need to arrive at a point where those kinds of things are not sanctioned by the state anymore," Alexander said. "This ought to be something that gets done because it needs to be done."

28 years ago, Union County Commissioners voted for the name change, and were told by U.S. Geological survey that it was a done deal.

Still, present day web pages from the USGS call the creek the full blown N-word.

Local NAACP President Kojo Natambu is offended and disappointed by the response offered from the USGS, which says in part.

It seems that there are only a few inadvertent errors on USGS products ... We regret any errors that did occur.

He said, "Very divisive, very negative, very retro, and it takes you back to a place that we thought that had left from years ago."

"My guess would be, the people who named it didn't think much about it."

The name can be traced to the mid 1800's.
   
That's when riders of the Pony Express shuttled mail to a place in Union County known as Negro Head Depot.

Historian Dan Morrill feels that it was a statement of the times.

"Clearly, at this time in this space today. One has to look at any term that is used and have to be sensitive to the values we have now," he said.

That's the point Kelly Alexander wants to make.

"It's not a partisan issue, but let's bring North Carolina completely into the 21st century," the representative said.

Alexander  said the legislation has headed to bill drafting and now has a co sponsor and bipartisan support.

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