Missouri City's City Council recently approved the name changes of two streets in the Vicksburg Village of Shiloh, a suburban neighborhood southwest of Houston, after residents protested the streets’ original names due to their controversial history.

The background

The decision came after Rodney Pearson, a resident and community advocate, led a petition drive among fellow property owners to rename the streets.

The streets in question, Bedford Forrest Drive and Bedford Forrest Court, were named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general during the Civil War who later became the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Pearson's efforts were met with overwhelming support from his fellow community members. The community joined together to rally behind the initiative to change the street names to ones that better represent their aspirations and values, according to City Council meeting statements.

How it happened

Council Member Jeffrey Boney, who represents the area where Vicksburg Village is located, had previously initiated an ordinance amendment in 2020, lowering the threshold for name changes from 90% to 60% consent from property owners on a given street, according to city documents.

This change paved the way for other homeowners in the neighborhood to successfully petition for the renaming of streets like Confederate Drive, Confederate Court, and Confederate South Drive to Prosperity Drive, Prosperity Court, and Prosperity South Drive, respectively.

The lowering of the threshold to 60% for name change petitions demonstrated the council's receptiveness to the voices of the community, acknowledging the need to address historical legacies that perpetuated racial disparities and discomfort, according to Boney.

The impact

The proposal to rename Bedford Forrest Drive as Liberty Way Drive and Bedford Forrest Court as Liberty Way Court received unanimous approval from City Council.

Once the changes take effect, residents will no longer have to encounter street signs, bills or identification documents bearing the names of figures associated with a painful and divisive past.

City Council's decision was not the first of its kind, as Missouri City has previously addressed similar concerns about street names that bore connections to the Confederacy. As of July in 2020, Missouri City had eight subdivisions and 20 street names that contained the word plantation alone, as previously reported by Community Impact.