Jefferson Davis Street, your days are numbered, and Michael Bankhead won’t be sad when you go.
On Wednesday, around the time that city officials announced that Jefferson Davis Street would soon be renamed Druid Hills Way, Bankhead, a carpenter, was renovating a house in the 2500 block.
Bankhead, who is Black, said that over the years he had taken note of the name and had found it odd that a street in one of Charlotte’s Black neighborhoods — Druid Hills — would be named in honor of a Confederate president — an avowed white supremacist.
He called the renaming, set for a public unveiling on Sept. 25, “a step in the right direction.”
Jefferson Davis Street is the first of nine Charlotte thoroughfares to be renamed. All currently are named in honor of men with ties to the white supremacy or the former Confederacy.
Others on the list are:
- Phifer Avenue
- Jackson Avenue
- Zebulon Avenue
- Aycock Lane
- W. Hill Street
- Morrison Avenue
- Barringer Drive
- and Stonewall Street
In February, City Council voted its intention to rename the streets, part of a bigger effort to address the legacy of slavery and white supremacy — an effort also underway in a handful of other U.S. cities.
“Sometimes we put praise on the wrong things,” Bankhead said. “The old Confederate monuments and what they stand for — I just don’t understand how that equates with greatness.”
In June, city staff began seeking feedback from Druid Hills residents and property owners about the renaming. Out of 17 potential names, residents were asked to rank their top 3 picks.
Druid Hills Way won with 55% of the vote, compared to 9% for the next highest choice.
In a statement Wednesday, Mayor Vi Lyles said the renaming is part of a journey that began more than a year ago to reshape the city’s landscape, “representative of the dynamic and diverse city Charlotte has become.”
Phifer Avenue, in the Fourth Ward of uptown Charlotte, will be renamed Montford Point Street, honoring the first Black Americans to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps, in 1942. Some of those recruits were trained at Camp Montford Point near the North Carolina town of Jacksonville.
Officials said the city also has started the renaming process for Aycock Lane, Jackson Avenue and Zebulon Avenue, with completion set for late November and early December.
In late October, the city will begin engaging with residents about the renaming of Hill Street and Morrison Avenue.
The city has set up a web page to keep residents informed about efforts to rename the nine streets.