Richmond Co. Commissioner plans to put Calhoun name debate on agenda soon

Calhoun Expressway may be renamed 'Veterans Expressway' (Source: WFXG)
Calhoun Expressway may be renamed 'Veterans Expressway' (Source: WFXG)

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The John C. Calhoun Expressway name change has been a topic of conversation in the Richmond County Commission for the past year. District 1 Commissioner Bill Fennoy put it on the agenda several times but each time it was denied by the full commission.

"It isn't going to be no better whoever it changes because the damage is already done just like I said, It isn't going to be no better," says Jinnie Turner.

The John C. Calhoun Expressway. For the past year, it's been on and off the agenda for Augusta – Richmond County Leaders on whether the name of the expressway should be changed because of who it represents, the former 7th Vice President of the United States who was a strong supporter of slavery.

"Why would you do it in the beginning and you knew what was going on. You knew this man was a slave master, why did you name this after him?" explains Turner.

She lives feet away from the Calhoun Expressway and is referring back to when then Richmond County Commissioners in 1966 voted to name the expressway. She believes in 2018 there's no point in having this discussion.

"It didn't have my vote, that's for sure. I wouldn't vote for it," she says.

But not everyone feels the same way. This past Tuesday, Historian Professor John Hayes spoke to city leaders stating other cities around the country making that change and even acknowledged the time it was voted on in Richmond County, segregation was in full effect in Augusta during the 1960's.

"Changing a symbol won't change material realities. But changing a symbol isn't meaningless. Removing a racially exclusive symbol would be a step forward and we're free to do that in our American political system," says John Hayes.

Even being voted down several times for the past year by the full Commission, Commissioner Fennoy says he believes this time could produce a different outcome.

"What I'm asking for is a resolution to give to our legislative delegation so the delegation can go to Atlanta and say this is what the people in Augusta want," says Commissioner Fennoy.

He says he plans on putting it on the July 17th Commission Meeting. Between now and then he says he'll be gathering with historians and influential people in the community. He couldn't share much more details but he says several ideas for other names will be discussed between now and then.

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