West Badin residents want street names linked to Confederacy renamed

A group of concerned West Badin citizens have been busy mobilizing to try and get the town council to have a discussion regarding changing the names of several streets in the western part of the town that have ties to the Confederacy.

While many streets in the eastern part of town, including Pine Street, Hickory Street and Elm Street, are named after trees, many of the streets on the western end, which has historically been home to the town’s Black community, are named after slave owners and Confederate war heroes such as Lee Street, presumably named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, and Jackson Street, likely named after Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Even though some of the names, like Lincoln and Grant, are named after historical leaders who made noteworthy strides in advancing the cause of freedom for Blacks, the group, which is comprised of around 200 people, wants to decide for themselves what the individual names should be.

“The whole idea with that (deciding the merits of each individual historical figure) is…how would you say, ‘Well this person is good and that person is bad’ when the main issue has been why was a predominately Black neighborhood named after all Caucasian leaders?” said Avonda Wilson, one of the organizers of the group. “If you want to change one, then you may as well change all of them.”

Georgette Edgerton, another organizer of the group, said the streets in West Badin, which have been in place for more than a century, were intentionally named for these historical figures “to give the people of West Badin a sense of patriotic citizenry, which in other words means to keep us in bondage.”

“Well, right now we realize no longer will we be put in bondage,” Edgerton added.

The group’s efforts comes when cities and towns across the country have been removing statues of Confederate leaders and renaming streets. Several streets in Charlotte with ties to slavery and the Confederacy, for example, were renamed within the past year.

Wilson said conversations about changing the street names has been discussed internally within the community for at least the last 30 years, but only in the past decade has it been brought up publicly before town leaders. No action has been taken on the issue, but members of the group are hoping this time will be different.

The group has been pressing the council to include on its July 12 meeting an agenda item allowing for discussion of the issue. According to information from Badin Town Manager Jay Almond, the council will have a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Badin Town Hall “to discuss street names in the town,” though no members of the public will speak.

At this point, Wilson and Edgerton said, the residents of West Badin are not worried about what the new names should be; they simply want the issue to be discussed and a public hearing to be held during the July council meeting.

“All we want them to do is actually just put it on the agenda,” Wilson said.

“I’m praying that the town council will listen to the young people,” Edgerton said.

If the council were to allow the names to be changed, Wilson believes the new names should reflect the population that resides within the area. Some ideas brought up include changing streets to honor prominent Black leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and also to celebrate the town’s own Black history by highlighting key local figures.

“This was built as a predominately Black neighborhood … so if it’s going to be a predominately Black neighborhood, let the street names be named after predominately Black people,” Wilson said.