A vote to name a new park in Mableton that contains Civil War earthworks was postponed Tuesday amid ongoing disagreement over how and whether the name should reference a Confederate general.
Mableton residents who spoke at a public meeting earlier this year overwhelmingly supported naming the tract Mableton Discovery Park. They said they wanted an inclusive, forward-looking name for a public amenity in their community.
A few historic preservationists objected, and said the name should reference to the remnants of Johnston’s River Line, a series of unique earthworks constructed by Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston.
Commissioners had been set to vote on a compromise: Mableton’s Chattehoochee River Line Park. But Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents the area, pulled the item citing ongoing discussions.
She also pushed back against statements made by East Cobb resident Mary Stevens, who advocated for keeping Gen. Johnston’s name during the public comment portion of the meeting. Stevens appeared to downplay the role of slavery in the war and the impact of chattel slavery on African Americans.
“Had it been so bad for the freed slaves they would have left the south,” Stevens said. “Naming the park anything that does not include the name of Joseph Johnston is historically inaccurate.”
Commissioner Cupid said she was offended by the comments.
“This is part of the reason why there has been a move toward finding a neutral name for the site,” Cupid said. “I appreciate there being a difference of perspective but it’s very clear that this is a very sensitive issue that I don’t think was dealt with very sensitively by the previous speaker.”