Posted on December 4, 2020

City Streets May Be Renamed over Confederacy, White Supremacy Ties

Danielle Chemtob and Devna Bose, Charlotte Observer, December 2, 2020

Nine Charlotte streets named after people with ties to the Confederacy, white supremacy, segregation or slavery should be renamed, a panel commissioned by the city recommended Wednesday.

The Legacy Commission was formed in June by Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles in the wake of protests over the police killing of George Floyd and a nationwide reckoning with the history of racism in America.

The members of the commission, appointed by the mayor and city council, released a report detailing the draft recommendations alongside a survey sent out to the public Wednesday.

{snip} They reviewed an initial list of over 70 streets names in Charlotte associated with slavery, Confederate veterans, white supremacy or “romanticized notions of the antebellum South.”

The commission will share an update with city council Dec. 14 on the final recommendations, which will be informed by public feedback. {snip}

Virtually every street named after a person in Charlotte before the late 1800s honors a family that enslaved people, the report concluded.

Because of that, the group decided to put the highest priority on renaming streets named for Confederate leaders and those in charge of the statewide white supremacy campaign that began in 1898, said Emily Zimmern. She is the chairwoman of the commission and a former director and president of the Levine Museum of the New South.

“The Legacy Commission believes that the continued memorialization of slave owners, Confederate leaders and white supremacists on street signs does not reflect the values that Charlotte upholds today and is a direct affront to descendants of the enslaved and oppressed African Americans who labored to build this city,” the group wrote.


The commission also reviewed Confederate monuments in Charlotte, but is not recommending moving or taking them down.

According to the report, the monuments in Elmwood Cemetery are the only ones in public spaces that the city has control of. {snip}



Here are the street names being recommended for changes. {snip}

  • Stonewall Street: Named for Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, this street runs through what was the Black neighborhood of Brooklyn, before it was destroyed during urban renewal in the 1960s and ‘70s. {snip}
  • Jackson Avenue: Also named after Stonewall Jackson, this street is off of East 10th Street just outside of uptown.
  • Jefferson Davis Street: This street in the Druid Hills community is named after the former president of the Confederacy. {snip}
  • West Hill Street: Daniel H. Hill was a Confederate officer who was born in York County, S.C., and spent time in Charlotte, where he died in 1889. {snip}
  • Phifer Avenue: William Phifer was one of the biggest slaveowners in Charlotte. {snip}
  • Aycock Lane: This street in south Charlotte is likely named for Charles Aycock, who served as governor of North Carolina, and was the primary architect of the state’s white supremacy movement that emerged in 1898, and led to the disenfranchisement of Black North Carolinians.
  • Barringer Drive: Osmand Barringer of the prominent Barringer family has said this street was named after him. He was the leader of a local white supremacy club and fought the desegregation of Charlotte’s public facilities in the the 1950s. {snip}
  • Morrison Boulevard: Cameron A. Morrison, the former governor, was a white supremacist and a leader of the “Red Shirts,” a paramilitary group that terrorized and suppressed Black voters in the 1890s. {snip}
  • Zebulon Avenue: Zebulon Baird Vance served as Confederate governor, then later as the state’s governor, a congressman and U.S. Senator. {snip}


The commission is also recommending that the city educate residents about its history of slavery, segregation and white supremacy, and the lasting impacts. {snip}


The report also concluded that the Lost Cause movement played a role in Charlotte. {snip}

As an example of that movement, the report cited the Elmwood Cemetery monument to the Confederate dead that was erected by the city in 1887. During a reunion of Confederate veterans which Charlotte hosted in 1929, the city put up a marker that reads that those same men “preserved the Anglo-Saxon civilization of the South.”


The report also suggests the city look at naming future streets after individuals who have contributed to Charlotte’s progress, including those who have been overlooked in the past, such as Black, Latinx, Native American and female Charlotteans.