After seven months of petitioning, a group of Columbia, Maryland residents gathered Monday for an official ceremony revealing their neighborhood’s new street name.
Coon Hunt Court has now been changed to April Wind Court, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“For more than 175 years, the word ‘coon’ represented racism and bigotry against African-American people,” April Wind Court resident Ambrose Lane Jr. said at the ceremony. “We come here today to right the wrong, to correct the mistake, to continue James Rouse’s vision and dream of an inclusive, neighborly, and multiracial Columbia community.”
James Rouse was the founder of the city of Columbia. Lane Jr. added that it’s a mystery whether or not the racially-charged street name was intentional, but that it no longer mattered.
The city’s Department of Planning and Zoning accepted the petition in July and voted unanimously to approve the name change in September.
“I am pleased to be part of creating a new chapter for this neighborhood and making it more inclusive. By working together, we were able to accomplish this efficiently and quickly,” County Council member Calvin Ball told the newspaper. He helped the group of residents with the name-changing process.
County Executive Ken Ulman supported the name change as well, calling it “long overdue” on his Facebook page. He said his family moved to Columbia because it was a community that “embraced the values of diversity, acceptance and opportunity.”
“The fact is, the street name Coon Hunt Court does not represent those values, ” Ulman said. “Your new name and your new identity in the community begins today, free of negative racial connotations.”
Khari Lane, another resident, said it was motivating to watch the neighborhood come together for a cause.
She said, “To finally have it done here in 2012, it’s more of a representation of how our culture is changing.”
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