In the light of recent protests in the City of Hattiesburg, Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado has received numerous requests about additional measures city officials could take to promote an end to some of the divisiveness throughout the country and city.
One step toward that goal would be the renaming or removing of streets, areas or markers honoring Confederate soldiers or other individuals who helped subjugate African Americans, a proposal brought forth by Delgado at a recent council meeting.
“I wanted to present some (of the requests) to you,” Delgado told the council. “There are going to be others that I didn’t bring with me today, but just know that at the next meeting, I will be making that presentation.”
One of the requests is to relocate the bust of Hattiesburg founder William H. Hardy, which sits near Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center. Hardy, a Confederate soldier, raised Company H of the 16th Mississippi Infantry Regiment in 1861 and was later elected captain.
In April 1864, Hardy was appointed an aide de camp by Gen. Argyle Smith, and he served in that capacity until the Civil War’s end.
Another proposition is to rename Hardy Street, which is named in honor of Hardy.
“We have information concerning his activity that was consistent with some of the same arguments that are being made against (Forrest) County continuing to be named for (Confederate general) Nathan Bedford Forrest,” Delgado said.
Delgado also mentioned the renaming of Lee Street, which runs between East Hardy Street and Currie Street, and which the councilwoman said was named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
Another name change recommendation was made for Jeff Davis Circle, which is named for Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The same goes for Dudley West Conner Street, which runs near Hattiesburg City Hall.
“It’s public knowledge that (Conner) was one of the leaders of the White Citizens Council here in Hattiesburg,” Delgado said. “He was part of a documentary that appears online called ‘The Spies of Mississippi.’
“I’m suggesting that you all take a look at it, because the Sovereignty Commission was a state-funded, taxpayer-funded entity that spied on citizens all over the state, but particularly here in Hattiesburg, including Mr. (Vernon) Dahmer and that family, and so many others. And they interjected themselves in the lives of these people and put them in mortal danger. Mr. Conner’s reputation precedes himself – I knew him personally – and there are things that I would suggest you read in the commission report.”
The issue is expected to be discussed during a work session at the council’s July 6 work session.