Federal Board Approves Removing ‘Negro’ From Over A Dozen Texas Site Names
The word ‘negro’ will be removed from the name of 16 sites in Texas, following approval from a federal board on Thursday, June 10.
The US Board on Geographic Names gave the green light for the sites to be renamed, 20 years after denying a similar request for the site names to be changed to honour Black historical figures from the state.
The decision was granted after the Texas legislature passed a bipartisan resolution agreeing that the site names should have the racially offensive term removed and replaced and urging the federal board to give permission for the changes to be made.
In a statement, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who introduced the legislation that was rejected by the board back in 1991 when he was a state senator, said in a statement that the changes were ‘a long time coming.’
‘I am proud to see this change finally happen,’ he said, per the Washington Post. ‘I hope that the [U.S. Board on Geographic Names] will build on the progress made today in Texas, and work with other groups across the country to ensure that all racially offensive names are erased from the public domain.’
Ellis pointed out that while the Texas sites will be renamed, there remain hundreds of other places across the United States with similarly offensive and outdated titles. Axios reports that more than 1,000 places in the US continue to bear racially offensive names.
The US Board on Geographic Names is responsible for maintaining a national database of place names which is used for things like Google Maps. The board said that the initial request made two decades ago was rejected because of a lack of ‘local support’ for the changes at the time.
In it’s announcement on Thursday that Board said it had also approved the names set to replace the offensive titles, most of which refer to Black Texas heroes.
Among the renamed sites are a river tributary, which will be renamed from ‘Negro Branch’ to Ada Simond Creek, in honour of the Black writer and activist, and a hill summit previously called ‘Negro Head,’ which will now be known as Henry Flipper Hill, after a formerly enslaved man who became the first Black graduate of the prestigious West Point military academy.
When asked to give evidence to support the changes, Jennifer Runyon, a member of the board’s research staff, said ‘The new evidence is… it’s 2021.’
Featured Image Credit: Getty Images
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