Savannah council to vote on removing name of Calhoun Square

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 10:37 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2022 at 9:44 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Change history or keep it?

Those are the questions the community has been asking for more than a year and what Savannah City Council will decide Thursday for Calhoun Square.

Is it changing history or correcting a wrong?

“Today, Calhoun would probably be thought of as a white supremacist,” said Sharon Galin, who lives in the neighborhood.

Sharon Galin lives in the neighborhood and with John Calhoun, a former South Carolina politician and the 7th United States vice president, having a reputation of supporting slavery, she doesn’t think his name belongs there.

“I think it would be great to have a woman and an African-American woman,” said Galin.

That’s why she and others have been trying to get the majority of neighbors on board to rename the square after Susie King Taylor, America’s first Black nurse and first teacher of freed slaves. There’s also a school named after her in Savannah.

Some people in the area think history should stay how it is.

“It happens to offend some people. It doesn’t offend me. I’m a Black Savannahian,” said David Tootle, who lives near the area.

History, in his eyes, can be a lesson.

“Black children need to grow up and understand here’s what my ancestors went through and white children can grow up and say here’s what happened back then. This was wrong,” Tootle said.

But because it was wrong, neighbors say it shouldn’t be celebrated.

“I feel compassion for a Black man or woman who walks through this square with his child and his child asks, ‘who are we celebrating?’” said Kerry Breitbart, who lives in the neighborhood.

Thursday, might be the last time someone will walk through Calhoun Square, as it’s officially named, but it won’t be the end of the conversation.

“This stuff has got to stop. We got to preserve our history. Preserve this town. And I’m starting a group SOS — Save Our Square.”

If Savannah City Council votes to change the name, what will the new name of the square be? The city is considering making this a public process, including neighbors and the community before their final approval.