Why more than 30 years ago, a developer thought it was a good idea to name a new subdivision in Missouri City "Vicksburg" and assign names related to the Confederacy to many of its streets is one of those puzzlers lost in the sands of time.
What is perfectly clear, however, is that many of the residents of the Fort Bend County subdivision located off Highway 6 reject those street names honoring slave owners, Confederate generals and the Confederacy in general.
They want those names gone, and thanks to some city regulatory changes spearheaded by Missouri City Councilman Jeffery Boney, are increasingly effective in doing so. Previously 90 percent of residents on a street had to petition for a name change; City Council lowered that to 60 percent.
In the Saturday ceremony, residents gathered to hear from local officials and to be there for the unveiling of the new street names.
Photo by Margaret Downing
On Saturday, residents of the Vicksburg subdivision in Missouri City turned out in very hot weather, along with a number of elected officials, to officially unveil the renaming of Bedford Forrest Drive to Liberty Way Drive and Bedford Forrest Court to Liberty Way Court.
Both streets were named after Nathan Bedford Forrest who was not only a Confederate general and slave owner, but a slave trader and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
"Nobody wants to live on a street with that name," U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-TX 9th District) told those assembled.
Rodney and Angie Pearson led the petition drive to get City Council approval for the name change. "Living on a street with that name felt like an insult to our ancestors to honor such a man," Angie Pearson said Saturday.
The costs of the signs change are normally borne by the people living on the renamed streets but Green paid the costs out of his own pocket.
Green did the same thing with earlier street name reassignments, changing several Vicksburg subdivision streets with the word Confederate in them to Prosperity. Residents Rhonda and Beau Gilbo led that successful fight and were on hand Saturday to cheer on the latest effort. "Take charge to change all the Confederate names out here, " Beau Gilbo told the crowd to applause.
At Large City Councilwoman Sonya Brown-Marshall told the crowd she had been on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission for a number of years. It used to be that developers would put street names on plats in tiny print, she said. Now, she said. developers must provide a list of street names so that they can be examined closely for anything that might be unsuitable.
Rodney and Angie Pearson led the petition drive to have the street names changed.
Photo by Margaret Downing