GEORGIA: Clayton County Holding On To Confederate Street Names

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A proposal to part ways with Georgia’s Confederate past was shot down during a Clayton County Board of Commissioners meeting.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the measure to change more than a dozen streets with names with ties to Confederate Army generals was brought up for its last hurdle — but it never even made it to a vote.

Clayton County Commissioner DeMont Davis sponsored the resolution and was confident it would pass. It died when it was introduced and no one seconded or backed the motion for a vote.

Though commissioners didn’t seem to be behind the movement, residents who actually live on those streets were celebrating the potential for change — while others grew more concerned over what they call lost history.

“We stay on a big plantation. if you look at it, you see when you come in it’s only one way in and one way out and all of the names of the street are plantation names,” said Clayton County resident Mardel Heckstall.

Heckstall is among those who live in the neighborhood which seemingly pays homage to Confederate Army generals, starting with Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, and even Jeff Davis.

“The whole street is named after slave masters, plantations, and all that above but the majority people who stay on it are Black or Hispanic, so it will be a great thing to do to change the name,” added Heckstall.

Davis, the commissioner behind the legislation, said home values could be hurting because of the street names.

“I think it begins to add character to the community,” Davis said. “But also, I found out from a report that was written in 2022 that homes on streets with Civil Rights generals names on (their street) sell for about 3 percent less than the same comparable home in the same immediate community.”

Davis said a Jonesboro High School student was the catalyst who pushed the movement forward.

“The driving effort was this young man coming to me, and writing me a letter from his heart stating, ‘why do I have to be inundated in this type of community?'” Davis said.

But not all residents wanted to switch their street names.

“It’s our history. That’s the flag he was fighting for,” said neighbor Geraldine Pattillo.

Still, Davis said many people in the community rallied behind the measure, even children. But it didn’t have enough votes among commissioners to change history.

Davis did not say if he would revisit the effort.