Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado has officially suggested to Hattiesburg City Council the removal or renaming of certain monuments and streets throughout the city that are named after individuals who may have played a part in the subjugation of African Americans since the time of the Civil War.
During the July 6 council meeting, Delgado suggested those measures for several different streets and monuments:
• Hardy Street: Named for Hattiesburg founder William Harris Hardy, a Confederate officer during the Civil War. A bust of Hardy also sits in front of Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center on Front Street.
• East Hardy Street: Also named for Hardy.
• Forrest Street: Named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate general and first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
• Lee Street: Named for Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
• Davis Street: Named for Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.
• Alcorn Street: Named for James Lusk Alcorn, the 28th governor of Mississippi who helped prepare Mississippi’s Ordinance of Secession and served as brigadier general of the Mississippi State Militia.
• Jackson Street: Named for Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
• Longstreet Drive: Named for Confederate lieutenant general James Longstreet.
• Dudley Conner Street: Named for Dudley Conner, the first president of the local White Citizens Council.
• Aztec Street, Apache Street, Chickasaw Street, Choctaw Street and Mohawk Street: Delgado suggested these be renamed as an act to honor the dignity of Indigenous people.
“Just to be clear, it is never my intent to cast blame for slavery on any living person, nor the generations immediately preceding us,” Delgado said. “The problem we have as a community is that we never got over the Civil War, and as a consequence, we have allowed all the generations since to be taught a lie as history.
“Generations have been taught of the bravery and valor of a collective of pro-slavery allies, who took the bold step to secede from the Union for the purpose of maintaining slavery, and hence, the economy of the South. The facts of the Civil War have been purposefully clouded by the disappointment and foiled hopes of many southerners who wanted to maintain their status quo, which for them was the continued enslavement of my people.”
Delgado said monuments are placed by society to honor contributions, as is the naming of institutions and streets. Therefore, she said, the people of Hattiesburg should not in good conscience allow the “maintenance of the lies of history” for future generations.
“For the sake of generations that labored under the false narrative of the valor of the Confederacy and the virtues of white supremacy, I am proposing the renaming of (these) streets and relocation of monuments and images as an act of enlightenment and commitment to representing the truth of our history so that we move forward to shape an informed future,” she said. “While I do have recommendations for new names, the community should make the decision of persons who have earned the position of honor in our community.”
Council president Carter Carroll said in his time on the council, two streets have been renamed, and that was with the consent of the residents on those roads. But because of the logistics involved in Delgado’s proposal, Carroll said he would be opposed to that measure, particularly on Hardy Street.
“Let’s just take Hardy Street by itself – the sheer amount of money and the time that it would take businesses to redo all their stationery, all of their advertising – several businesses would have to change their name,” he said. “And with all this, there is no way, economically, that I am going to go along with putting these businesses through this kind of difficulty.
“Along with that, can you imagine the GPS that we would have problems with – our ambulances, first responders – if we were to change all these names at one time?”