Seven months after starting a petition to rename their Columbia street, Coon Hunt Court, residents officially have their new street — April Wind Court.
"For more than 175 years, the word "coon" represented racism and bigotry against African-American people. Whether those charged with the naming of the streets of Thunder Hill named Coon Hunt Court with cruel intention or honest mistake will remain a mystery. Today, that no longer matters," April Wind Court resident Ambrose Lane Jr. said during Monday's unveiling ceremony.
"We come here today to right the wrong, to correct the mistake, to continue James Rouse's vision and dream of an inclusive, neighborly, and multiracial Columbia community," Lane Jr. said.
Lane Jr., the son of a civil rights activist, was one of six residents living on the Oakland Mills street who, with the help of County Council member Calvin Ball, spurred the name change.
“I am pleased to be part of creating a new chapter for this neighborhood and making it more inclusive. By working together, we were able to accomplish this efficiently and quickly," Ball said. "I want to thank all the county departments, staff and the Planning Board -- all of them made this reality.”
In July, a petition to change the name was accepted by the county's Department of Planning and Zoning. On Sept. 7, the Planning Board unanimously voted to approve the name change.
Street names in Thunder Hill come from the titles of paintings by Andrew Wyeth, and although there was no "Coon Hunt," there was a piece entitled "The Coot Hunter," named for a type of bird found in Maine.
Resident Khari Lane said watching the neighborhood rally around the change was motivating.
"To finally have it done here in 2012, it's more of a representation of how our culture is changing," Lane said.
County Executive Ken Ulman said his parents moved to Columbia to "raise a family in a community that embraced the values of diversity, acceptance and opportunity."
"The fact is, the street name "Coon Hunt Court," does not represent those values," Ulman said. "Your new name and your new identity in the community begins today free of negative racial connotations.”