Montgomery County to rename 3 Potomac streets after Black historical figures

Three Montgomery County streets in Potomac, Maryland, that bear the name of Confederates will soon be getting new names.

The name changes were decided after the county council requested that the names of all streets and parks in the county be examined.

Among those leading that research was Tanya Stern, deputy director of the Montgomery County Planning Department.

“Out of that research we identified three streets that have full name matches to nationally known Confederates,” Stern said.

The streets are Jeb Stuart Road, Jeb Stuart Court and Jubal Early Court, all of which sit off of Montrose Road, not far from Seven Locks Road and Interstate 270. Stuart was a Confederate army officer, while Early was a Confederate general.

Once identified, the decision was made to rename the roads and after weighing in, two names received the most support from the community.

One name was Geneva Mason, a prominent member of the Scotland community that is centered near Seven Locks Road in Potomac. That community was predominantly home to African Americans whose roots date back to the late 19th century, when former slaves bought land in Potomac.

Mason, who died in 1980, was instrumental in the rebuilding of the Scotland neighborhood and its fight against urban renewal efforts in the 1960s, according to the county.

The other name chosen was William Dove. Dove was born into slavery and later became one of the founding members of the Scotland community. County historians said he purchased some of the first parcels of land in the neighborhood and many of his descendants still live there.

The two streets named after Stuart will be renamed after Mason. The street named after Early will have Dove’s name.

Stern said the community appears to support the move.

“Generally speaking, we did not get a huge amount of pushback because I think this was not a new conversation within that community,” she said.

Residents who live on the streets were notified on Thursday of the new names and will eventually need to start the process of changing their addresses, similar to what someone would do if they move, Stern said.

According to a letter sent to those impacted, the county said it received a great deal of feedback on whether financial help should be provided to residents for the name change process. The letter stated that attempts to find a solution were unsuccessful.

Now that the names have been chosen, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation will begin a process to change the signs. Stern said she is not sure how long it will take for that to play out.

When it comes to the research gathered during the examination of Montgomery County’s street and park names, Stern said a lot was learned, including the discovery of the names of more than 3,000 African Americans who were once enslaved in the county.

“We’ve created a whole resource that will be beneficial for many other efforts beyond this specific project,” Stern said

In addition to the streets, a trail named Jeb Stuart Trail at Woodstock Equestrian Park was also identified. It has since been renamed Northern Edge Trail.

Stern said for her, as an African American woman who grew up in the region, it was important to be a part of this process.

“It’s pretty significant to be involved in an initiative like this, to help Montgomery County really kind of change the direction in terms of the types of individuals that are honored in this community,” she said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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