In Georgia’s early years, slaves would try to cross a small body of water on Skidaway Island to escape north to freedom.
For at least the past 100 years, that tidewater has been known as Runaway Negro Creek.
State Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, said that name is offensive and he wants Georgia to urge the federal government to make a change to the sliver of water that runs along the edge of Skidaway Island State Park.
A panel on Wednesday unanimously approved Senate Resolution 685, which would have state officials urge the United States Board of Geographic Names to change the name of the creek. The board is tasked with maintaining uniform usage of geographic names across the country.
A search on Google Maps shows Runaway Negro Creek north of the state park on Skidaway, although Jackson said at least one sign with that name on it has been taken down.
“Many members of the local community think the name Runaway Negro Creek is culturally insensitive, and they would like the creek changed to Freedom Creek, to describe the movement of enslaved people in search of freedom,” Jackson said.
He said local residents who attended a town hall meeting in August voice support for the effort, which has garnered bipartisan backing from his colleagues in the Senate.
“The vast majority of participants there not only urged, but sort of demanded that we remove the culturally insensitive name of that creek,” he said.
Maya T. Prabhu is a government reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Born in Queens, New York, and raised in northern Virginia, Maya attended Spelman College and then the University of Maryland for a master's degree. She writes about social issues, criminal justice and legislative politics.