The Little Rock Planning Commission
voted unanimously this afternoon to change the name of Confederate Boulevard
to Springer Boulevard, the name it carries southward after a short stretch to Granite Mountain, where the Springer namesake lived.
Two people spoke against the change.
The proposal now goes to the Little Rock Board of Directors, whose members have indicated support for the change.
Leslie Peacock will be back shortly with more details.
Several persons spoke in favor of the name change, including Joyce Elliott, who said the name change would be an example of progress for the world to see; Gloria Springer, who said that though she never knew her grandfather, Horace Springer,
for whom the street is named, the name means something "for my grandchildren and grandchildren to come. It's like handing a baton to the next generation"; and Acadia Roher, who said "we should not venerate slaveholders and segregationists" but instead be "lifting up stories of people who fought oppression."
The two men who spoke against the name change embodied why the name should be changed.
One, who identified himself as Jay Clark
, a resident of Robinwood, started off OK, calling the killing of nine black African Americans in a South Carolina church as horrible and their killer deranged. But then he started in on "leftists, blacks and politicians" who he said were "attacking a symbol of Southern heritage." He said the NAACP "tried to bully a nice lady who sells flags" — that would be Kerry McCoy of Little Rock Flag and Banner — into stopping selling the Confederate flag, which she declined to do "to her credit."
His voice rising, Clark then went on to say he had read "some of the most foulest editorials, many by a man named John Brummett," that he said displayed hate of Southern heritage. He then raged against the Southern Poverty Law Center, which he described as a hate group out to destroy Civil War monuments. "I want to remind the board why those monuments are there. The Southern states left the union lawfully. They should have been honored. The North made war on the South, and hundreds of thousands of men were killed and maimed. They fought with honor, dignity and courage. ... It's disgusting that [people] want to sully the names of these good people, true heroes." He did not mention their cause, to keep black people enslaved and considered less than human.
The other nay speaker was Steven Taylor
, who lives on Confederate Boulevard and said it honored war veterans and war dead. He then took a detour into criticism of Union Pacific and its "jungle" property, and asked, Why not change the name of the road back to College Street?
who headed up a petition drive to change the name of the street, said that "sadly, I'd like to say what we heard from the opposition and that is the word hate." She said none of the supporters for the street change had spoken against the Confederacy or its soldiers, and that there were only three entities that did not support the name change: the Union Rescue Mission, fearing it was too political; Taylor, who wasn't sure when Whitfield spoke to him, and Scruggs Bakery Supply.
, the vice chair of the Planning Commission, called the name change a "teachable moment" and "a democratic moment," favored by more than 50 percent of the property owners on the street. He said he was surprised that a portion of the road still carried the Confederate name.
"I understand the frustration [about the appearance of] trying to excise history," Berry said. "But Southern culture stands larger than a Confederate symbol. That was a lost cause ... and three years in our history."