Stanly County town explores changing street names with ties to slavery

BADIN, N.C. — Town leaders in Badin unanimously approved Tuesday night an ordinance to begin the process to change street names that honor late presidents and soldiers with ties to slavery.

Wilson, of Concerned Citizens of West Badin, has been leading the charge to change those street names in the western part of the town in Stanly County.

“We wanted them to hear us here and understand why we want this changed.” Avonda Wilson said on June 29 during a town meeting.

It has been part of a community discussion that has been going on for 30 years.

Names of the streets include names, such as Jackson, Washington, Lee and Grant.

“It is written in history that these street names were put up to make the Black community feel patriotic,” Wilson told Channel 9 Tuesday before the meeting. “Patriotic for what? We were segregated.”

Street names in the Village of Badin are primarily named after trees.

The streets in West Badin primarily show names of Civil War heroes and early 20th-century political figures.

“Since this topic was initially put in motion, no one has ever voiced to the opposition to it,” said Jay Almond, Badin town manager. “No staff no council members.”

“We also have to educate the public on the process but will work through it step-by-step,” Mayor Anne Harwood said.

Almond said, “The potential for several, possibly up to 15 streets to be changed, which would affect a couple hundred residents. The idea that you would lose up to minutes for an ambulance and a firetruck, a police car to arrive at an address that didn’t exist recently. It’s probably going to be a little different to do multiple streets then it is to do just one.”

Almonds said “the board doing due diligence and working through a process to try to be sure they do it right.”

Leaders at the planning meeting in June said the discussion was a step in that direction.

There was a presentation from county staff, which broke down the potential impact of changing the street names.

Concerns include cost, what it would mean for delivery services and response calls from emergency dispatch.

Those questions will be addressed at next month’s Town Council meeting.

“We have all been praying,” Wilson said in June. “Please let them put it on the agenda. Our prayers were answered today.”

In a response via email, the mayor said, in part, that “this is the first time the town’s ever looked into changing an entire group of public streets, which could include up to 17.”

She said that leaders are navigating with due diligence and that the plan is to move forward.

“I’m so proud of the representation in my community,” said resident Valerie L. Tyson, adding that she admired “the interest that they showed today.”

Harwood said it’s important the town create a policy on how to move forward.

Harwood said she has already reached out to the National Register of Historic Places to find out if it could impact the town’s standing as a historic site. That does not currently appear to be an issue.

(Watch the video below: Charlotte mayor wants to change name of street named after Confederate general)