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Charlotte City Council moving towards renaming streets that honor Confederate figures

Updated: Feb. 8, 2021 at 11:24 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte City Council unanimously decided to move forward with plans to rename several city streets previously named for Confederate soldiers, slaveowners, and segregationists.

The council met Monday night for its regularly scheduled meeting. One of the items considered by the elected leaders was the city’s Legacy Commission’s recommendations regarding the renaming of city streets.

The renaming discussion was most recently reignited in January of 2020 when the city established the commission, a group of individuals tasked with studying the names of streets and monuments in Charlotte. At the end of the year, the Legacy Commission presented a final report to city leaders. One of its recommendations was to rename several Charlotte streets.

The streets recommended for renaming include Jackson Avenue and Stonewall Street, which were named for Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, as well as Jefferson Davis Street, which was named for the former president of the Confederacy.

The Legacy Commission solicited feedback from members of the public with a survey. The survey asked respondents if they agreed with the commission’s recommendations, and if they would change anything about the recommendations. 594 people responded to the survey. Roughly 54 percent of respondents agreed with the recommendations. Roughly 43 percent of respondents disagreed with the recommendations. Several people responded to the survey with messages.

“Remove all of the street names with racist names worshipping the confederacy and change them to one’s of historic people in the civil rights movement,” wrote one individual.

Others explained that they felt no changes should be made to the street names.

“It would be idiotic to change the names of these streets. This is our history. Good or bad it is history and should be left alone. I guarantee most people do not realize these street names are for Civil War era people. You as a city council can’t erase history no matter how much you try. This is North Carolina we are a southern state,” wrote another respondent.

Charlotte City Councilman Larken Egleston shared a few comments about the renaming process during Monday night’s meeting.

“It doesn’t mean we are erasing that history. It doesn’t mean we aren’t teaching that history. It simply means we don’t honor those folks in the ways that they have been honored up until now,” explained Egleston.

Councilman Tariq Bokhari explained that he thinks city leaders should stop naming things after people.

“It’s impossible for us to understand with today’s lens or a future lens what is happening today nor anticipate that and I would just like to save councils in the future any kind of issues alongside that by just stripping that out of our entire playbook,” said Bokhari.

According to city staffers, the next steps in the Legacy Commission’s recommendations include developing a pilot program that outlines a process for changing street names and supporting the efforts of neighborhoods and developers that petition name changes.

Staffers said the city is also applying for a $250,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help fund the renaming as well as commemorative projects. Staffers said the city will also work to install a memorial commemorating the deaths of Joe McNeely and Willie McDaniel, victims of the two documented lynchings in Charlotte.

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