9:08 AM EST, February 9, 2012
The origins of the Columbia street named "Coon Hunt Court" are murky, but the inappropriateness of it is crystal clear. The name should be changed.
Coon Hunt Court is a tiny cul de sac with only six homes on it, tucked away off of Thunder Hill Road in Oakland Mills. You might have driven by it on your way to somewhere else. If so, you've probably wondered what in the world whoever named the street was thinking.
Yes, we know "coon" is short for "raccoon," and Columbia is full of cute names, some having to do with critters. (Just up the road is another tiny cul de sac named "Raccoon Court.") But "coon" is also derogatory slang for a black person, ranking right up there in offensiveness with the infamous "N" word. You needn't be excessively politically correct to find the name a curiosity, at the very least — and, at the most, an abomination.
Howard County has a process for changing street names (no surprise there) that leaves it up to the homeowners on the street, which is as it should be. Under the process, 90 percent or more of the households must approve; Coon Hunt Court, with only six households, would require unanimous approval.
As recent articles in this newspaper have pointed out, at least three households are behind the change (which was first discussed in 1969, proving that objections to the name are nothing new). So is the Oakland Mills Village Board and local County Council member Calvin Ball, who over the weekend, was on Coon Hunt Court gathering signatures on a petition requesting the name change.
Renaming streets has public safety implications and should not be done on a whim. But certain cases demand that it should be done, and this strikes us, beyond any doubt, as one of those cases.
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