Advocates seek name change to Savannah squares built on slave burial grounds

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – One local group is asking the city to change the names of two well-known squares in downtown Savannah. The squares are currently named after slave owners.

“As an African American this is a painful story and it pains me to even be here at this square,” Co-Founder of The Center of Jubilee, Patt Gunn said.

News 3 met Gunn in Calhoun Square to learn of it’s history. Calhoun and Whitefield Squares rest on slave burial grounds. John C. Calhoun and Reverend George Whitefield were pro-slavery advocates.

“This was the slave cemetery area and so we don’t want to have a sacredness of a negro burial ground to have pro-slavery advocates like John C. Calhoun and Reverend George Whitefield named in our local squares,” Gunn said.

Gunn and Rosalyn Rouse with The Center of Jubilee are asking the city of Savannah to consider changing the names of these squares and place historical markers. They said it will help those who visit to understand the city’s true history.

“I personally don’t want any public spaces where taxpayers are spending their money to have something that is causing pain to another group,” Gunn said.

Calhoun Square would be renamed to Sankofa Square. It’s an African word that means “go back and fetch it.” Whitefield Square would be changed to Jubilee Square, after Jubilee Freedom Day.

“How would you like to be in a position where your relatives are buried and on top of your relatives it’s someone that didn’t really care about you as a human being?” Gunn said.

Gunn believes this is a season of deconstructing and revising history to heal the open wounds.

“These are sacred places and spaces where our ancestors dwell without a marker. My conscience will not allow us to rest,” Gunn said.

The Center of Jubilee will have to get at least 51 percent of the neighbors in the area to agree to the name changes. The application is expected to be submitted by the end of this week.

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