After complaints by residents that the name of a creek in Georgia was culturally insensitive, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted on Thursday to rename the Runaway Negro Creek the Freedom Creek.
Savannah Now reports that the application to change the name of the creek was submitted by officials of the Georgia Archives to the USBGN in January who subsequently voted to change the name to Freedom Creek on April 11.
A press release by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-District 2) disclosed that the proposal to change the name of the creek was tabled after a public interest meeting in 2017 where residents of the Senate District 2 registered their displeasure with the previous name.
“We need to replace this antiquated symbol with one that is more representative of the events of the 1800s. We will be redefining history by shining a light on the events that transpired at Freedom Creek and honor the movement of freedom,” Jackson said in 2018, Savannah Now further reports.
Flowing along the border of Skidaway Island State Park, the creek was an escape route used by fugitive slaves from the Modena Plantation to get to Union islands during the civil war.
“This name change is certainly welcome news. The previous name has no place in our society. I am very glad our community came together at the local, state and federal levels to make this happen,” U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga., 1st District) told Savannah Now.
A USGBN staffer also confirmed the name change to CNN.
“The name has been updated in the Board’s official geographic names database, and future editions of federal maps will reflect the change,” geographer and board research staffer Jennifer Runyon told them in an email.
News of the name change was met with an awkward response on social media with many wondering why it took so long for it to take effect. Take a look at some of the reactions below: