A petition is circulating to rename South Hall’s Jim Crow Road, which has no relation to the segregationist South, but rather traces its history to a man who was a community leader.
The petition, with more than 5,500 names and growing rapidly as of Monday, June 8, says, “The longstanding history of slavery and mistreatment of African Americans is being represented by this street name.”
Randy Crow of Flowery Branch said in a 2019 interview that in the late 1980s the Hall County Board of Commissioners named the road in honor of his grandfather, Glennon “Jim” Crow, who once owned the property along its path.
He said his grandfather offered a hand to both white and black families who lived near his farm he started in the early 1930s. “There was no racial bone in his body,” Crow said.
The petition acknowledges the road’s history but doesn’t back down from its plea.
“Honoring the man, Jim Crow, is important to his grandchildren and the rest of the Crow family,” the petition says. “Losing the name has been a longstanding issue for the community and for the family.”
“However, Team WaywardArchangels would like to make a suggestion to the town of Flowery Branch to change the name from Jim Crow Road to Crow Road. This will remove the negative connotation and make people feel more comfortable announcing which street they live on, while also still honoring the family and the importance that Jim Crow had for that community.”
The page doesn’t give any more information about Team WaywardArchangels. Other information about the group wasn’t available Monday.
Sarah Foster, who moved to the area from Atlanta in 2019, said she “was shocked to see Jim Crow Road while exploring Flowery Branch” and before she knew the road’s history.
“Words have power and while it is important to remember members of our community, it should not be at the expense of others who have a very different understanding of what the words ‘Jim Crow’ represent,” she said.
Jim Crow laws targeted African Americans by enforcing racial segregation throughout the South.
Speaking Monday about the subject, Randy Crow said he wouldn’t be in favor of the change.
“It’s who the man was and when you change (the street name), you’re taking him down a notch,” he said. “He did a lot of good things for the people who lived on the road and for Flowery Branch and South Hall. He stood up for them when they needed someone to speak up.”
At the same time, “I know it’s a sore spot and it’s not the end of the world to me if they do change it.”
Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said that all but 400 feet of the 2-mile road, which runs from McEver Road to Old Federal Road near Lake Lanier, is in the city.
“I do not know if the City Council would be inclined to make this change” on the city’s portion of the road, he said. “I can say that none of the businesses within this 400-foot portion of the road would have to make a change to their address since they all front on either McEver or Radford Roads.”
"This issue has been raised before," Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley said. "However, Hall County has received no current formal request to change the name of Jim Crow Road."
"Should a request be made, it would first come before the (Hall County) Planning Commission and then before the Board of Commissioners, where it will be carefully and thoughtfully evaluated."