A case for flipping Charlotte history on its head

“On Feb. 24, 1986, Seattle residents awoke in a county named for William Rufus DeVane King, a slave-holding North Carolinian and 1852 vice presidential candidate. They went to bed that night in a county named for Martin Luther King Jr.

“And it was all so simple! As the King County official who proposed the switch said: “We won’t have to reprint stationery or change road signs or anything like that.”

“King County’s alchemy ought to be instructive to the 15-member committee now charged by City Council with reconsidering Charlotte’s own racially offensive public nomenclature.

“Morrison Boulevard, for instance, honors Gov. Cameron Morrison, the decades-long race-baiter whose farm would become SouthPark. Wouldn’t the city’s character — and image — be better served by renaming the street for Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the late Black novelist?

“And what about Stonewall Street — how about ditching the Confederate general and commemorating instead the historic Stonewall Riots that launched the gay liberation movement?”

— From “A fix for street names that offend,” my letter to the editor of the Charlotte Observer (Sept. 18)

Charlotte preservationist Len Norman reminded me on Facebook that “We can find an example here in North Carolina regarding Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. A few years back the University re-designated the stadium to be named for the son (who gave money to build it) instead of his father who had connections with the white supremacist movement in the late 1890s.”

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