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Coalition close to renaming Calhoun Square after Susie King Taylor

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 11:39 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah wouldn’t be Savannah without its history but some of it leaves a stain. Calhoun Square off Taylor Street is named after John Calhoun, a former South Carolina politician who supported slavery.

Patt Gunn, the founder of the coalition to rename Calhoun Square, said, “We also don’t want someone who’s a pro-slavery advocate in the middle of a public square with my tax dollars.”

She’s been leading a coalition for two years to rename it after someone they say deserves it - Susie King Taylor.

“Growing up here in Savannah as an African American woman you very rarely heard of a Susie King Taylor,” said Rosalyn Rouse, who is playing the role of Susie King Taylor.

If you’re not up on your Savannah history, her name might not ring a bell.

“She’s an American hero,” Gunn said.

Taylor was America’s first Black nurse, first teacher of freed slaves and now, she might be the first woman to have a square in Savannah named after her.

“For a long time, I’ve always wanted to say her name,” Rouse said.

Blocks away, the coalition to rename Calhoun square meets at Whitefield Square, which they say is right over a burial ground of former slaves. It’s just another part of their “why.”

“It’s as if they’re calling your name...don’t forget about me,” said Rouse.

There are 19 property owners, including Wesley United Methodist Church and the Massie Heritage School near the square. The coalition just needed 51% of their signatures to move forward. Getting their last signature, comes as Rosalyn Rouse is embodying King Taylor in an upcoming play.

“I feel like I am a part of the voice of Susie King Taylor...one of her ancestors.”

It’s a long journey the group says is finally coming full circle.

“It’s just like...Susie King...the whole world is gonna know Susie King,” said Rouse.

Taylor Square might be sitting off Taylor Street in just a few months.

Gunn said, “I would say all over Savannah....say her name. Susie King Taylor Square is on its way...say her name.”

The coalition says they’re hoping to have this in front of city council for a vote in July before Taylor’s birthday in August.

First, their petition must be reviewed by the Metropolitan Planning Commission’s Monuments and Sites team.

You can find a link for tickets to next weekend’s play here.

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