Charlotte to change streets named for Confederate leaders

CHARLOTTE — The city of Charlotte has begun efforts to rename nine streets that were previously named for people identified as Confederate leaders and white supremacists.

The city on Wednesday announced that Jefferson Davis Street, located in a predominantly Black neighborhood on the city’s north side, would be changed to Druid Hills Way. The changes follow approval from the Charlotte City Council in February to adopt recommendations from a commission to rename streets.

City staff began contacting residents in June, inviting them to provide feedback and new name recommendations in a survey. There were 17 suggested names that met the new criteria recommended by the Charlotte Legacy Commission and which led to Druid Hills Way, which was the choice of 55% of those responding to the survey.

A public unveiling of the new Druid Hills Way street signs is planned for Sept. 25.

In addition, Phifer Avenue will become Montford Point Street in honor of the North Carolina Marine base where Blacks trained because of policies that prevented them from training with whites.

Davis served as president of the Confederacy from 1861 until 1865. The Charlotte Legacy Commission said William Phifer, who came to Charlotte in 1852, owned nearly 30 slaves. His home served as headquarters for a Confederate general near the end of the Civil War and hosted the last meeting of the Confederate Cabinet, a meeting which included Davis.

The other streets include:

  • Phifer Avenue
  • Jackson Avenue
  • Zebulon Avenue
  • Aycock Lane
  • W. Hill Street
  • Morrison Avenue
  • Barringer Drive
  • Stonewall Street

Next Steps

The engagement process for renaming Aycock Lane, Jackson Avenue and Zebulon Avenue has begun with the same process as Jefferson Davis Street. The name suggestion survey is now open to residents, property owners and businesses in surrounding neighborhoods through Sept. 19. Replacement name voting will take place from Sept. 21 through Oct. 11. A public unveiling of these three new street names is expected to take place on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Community engagement for Hill Street and Morrison Avenue will begin in late October.

Residents and property owners who live on any of the nine streets that will be renamed may locate resources here, by calling 311 or emailing legacy@charlottenc.gov for assistance.

‘This is just one small step’

Charlotte City Council has been working on possible name changes for months, but a local group has been working on it long before that.

Phifer Avenue in uptown will soon have a different name thanks to the local chapter of the Montford Point Marines Association.

These Marines once served themselves, and their goal is to bring light to the World War 2 veterans they’re named after.

“This is just one small step toward that,” said Craig Little.

Montford Point is the North Carolina Marine base where Black enlistees trained because they weren’t allowed to congregate with their white counterparts at the time.

Howard Perry was the first African American Marine to arrive at Montford Point in 1942 -- and he’s from Charlotte.

Little is the chapter president of the Montford Point Marines Association, and has been working to bring the Marines recognition since 2019.

“A lot of people don’t know the history of the Montford Point Marines and it should be brought out,” he said.

Montford Point Street is part of the city’s effort to rename nine Charlotte streets previously named for white supremacists or Confederate leaders. That includes Phifer Avenue, which had been named after slave owner William Phifer, who used his home to host the Confederate Cabinet in the 1800s.

“In order to right a wrong, you have to identify it and rectify it,” said Little. “And that’s what the city of Charlotte is doing now.”

Once the official street signs go up, the Marines hope it will serve as a reminder to remember these heroes.

“For us Marines, personally it will have a place in our hearts because we do know the history,” said association secretary Kea Carlton.

Phifer Street is expected to be closed for the next five years due to re-development, so the city thought this was the perfect opportunity for the renaming.

(WATCH BELOW: Confederate statue ‘Fame’ moved to new location in Salisbury)