Well-known Raleigh neighborhood could soon be renamed to eliminate racist ties
Posted September 23, 2021 10:31 p.m. EDT
Updated September 24, 2021 8:24 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A well-known Raleigh neighborhood named for a man who enslaved people may soon be renamed.
On Thursday night, Cameron Park residents took part in a key vote to decide the fate of the place they call home.
"I voted to change the name," said resident Bill Dannelly.
"I voted no," countered Myrick Howard, another resident of Cameron Park.
Dannelly and Howard have both lived in Cameron Park for more than 40 years, and both feel differently about changing their neighborhood's name.
"I think the renaming is a gesture and a gesture only," said Howard. "It doesn't do anything."
Howard said he majored in history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and now teaches history there. He said he understands why people want the name change because of the Cameron family's history as slave owners
"The neighborhood was not named for the family. It was named for the land having been owned by the Camerons much earlier," said Howard.
Howard said that the neighborhood was dubbed Cameron Park in the 1910s, nearly 60 years after the Cameron family become well-known as one of North Carolina's largest land and slave holders.
Other buildings around Raleigh that bear the Cameron namesake have rebranded, including in January when the Cameron Village shopping center was renamed to Village District.
Cameron Village was built on land that once held hundreds of enslaved people, and the shopping center, built in 1949, was named for Cameron Duncan, the man who enslaved them.
Howard said the energy to rename Cameron Park should be used to do something bigger for the Black community, such as create a scholarship for young Black people.
"I think that people who are advocates for retaining the name have a very sound perspective," said Dannelly.
Dannelly said he'll respect a majority vote to keep the name, but he said it was a letter from his non-white neighbors to all of Cameron Park that made him vote to change it.
"Retaining the name is especially hurtful now that so many institutions have abandoned the Cameron namesake, and now, there is this heightened consciousness of the Cameron family's racism," said Dannelly.
Voting to change the name has been going on in person and online for two weeks. Cameron Park's neighborhood association said results could be available in about 10 days.