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Wilmington's Confederate Street Names Are Here to Stay -- for Now

Hannah Breisinger
The city has multiple streets named after Confederate or 1898 figures.

As calls for racial justice continue, the removal of confederate symbols continues to be a hot topic in Wilmington. But street name changes, in particular, probably won’t be happening anytime soon.

Earlier this month, New Hanover County Commissioners voted to change the name of Hugh MacRae Park to Long Leaf Park, after activists stressed that the park’s namesake was a white supremacist responsible for Wilmington’s 1898 coup d’etat.  In addition, two confederate monuments were removed from downtown -- and there are continued cries for a name-change to Parsley Elementary School. Walter L. Parsley had also been involved in the 1898 massacre of Black Wilmingtonians. 

The city has multiple streets named after Confederate or 1898 figures -- like the ones in the Pine Valley neighborhood, for example. But changing those names might be a more difficult task. That’s because city leaders imposed a moratorium on applications for street name changes in late 2019 -- after they realized that the current process was outdated and time-consuming. 

Wilmington spokesperson, Dylan Lee:

“Everyone was in agreement that we should put a hold on things because the recent examples were just not a very efficient process. And there was just so much new information coming to light at the public hearing that was not a part of the application.”

A timeline on the moratorium is unknown. City council does have the power to make its own motion for a street name change -- but, as for now, applications submitted by citizens remain off the table. 


Hannah is WHQR's All Things Considered host, and also reports on science, the environment, and climate change. She enjoys loud music, documentaries, and stargazing; and is the proud mother of three cats, a dog, and many, many houseplants. Contact her via email at hbreisinger@whqr.org, or on Twitter @hbreisinger.