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Savannah picks emancipated Black woman to replace name of slavery advocate on historic square
(WABE) – Georgia’s oldest city, steeped in history predating the American Revolution, made a historic break with its slavery-era past Thursday as Savannah’s city council voted to rename a downtown square in honor of a Black woman who taught formerly enslaved people to read and write.
Susie King Taylor is the first person of color whose name will adorn one of Savannah’s 23 squares. It’s the first time in 140 years that Savannah has approved a name change for one of the picturesque, park-like squares that are treasured features of the original plan for the city founded in 1733.
“It’s one thing to make history. It’s something else to make sense. And in this case, we’re making both,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said. He noted that five Black women sit on the nine-member city council, something people of Taylor’s era “never would have fathomed.”
Public spaces and monuments in the Southern city have long been dedicated almost exclusively to Georgia’s colonial founders, former governors, fallen war heroes and other prominent white men.
“It’s time for a woman-named square,” said Patt Gunn, a Savannah tour guide who led a group of activists that pushed for three years to have the square renamed for Taylor.
The oak-shaded square that will bear Taylor’s name near the southern edge of Savannah’s downtown historic district had spent 170 years named for John C. Calhoun, a former U.S. vice president from…