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Page Wants Park, Street Names In St. Louis County To Reflect Values

St. Lous County Executive Sam Page spoke about the coronavirus outbreak on the Politically Speaking podcast on Wednesday, March 25, 2020
File photo / Bill Greenblatt
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, seen here on March 25, has asked some of his cabinet members to review the names of streets and parks in the county to make sure they align with its values.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page wants to make sure that roads and parks in the county are named for people who are aligned with the county’s values.

“Over time, chapters of our history have been forgotten or wholly rewritten to provide a convenient narrative that leaves out large segments of our troubling and complicated past,” Page said Tuesday during remarks to the St. Louis County Council. “Some of the names of those complications are emblazoned on street signs or the names of parks around the country. Perhaps at the time the streets were named, it was no big deal. But it is a big deal. The symbols that define our community should not be symbols that divide our community.”

Page has asked his directors of diversity and inclusion, parks and transportation to review the names of county parks and roads, as well as look at statues on county property. There is no deadline for the review to be completed, and any name changes would require action by the County Council.

A group of Maryland Heights residents is already petitioning to change the name of Dorsett Road. It honors Walter Dorsett, who owned slaves and advocated against abolition.

The announcement of the review came the same day that crews removed a statue of Christopher Columbus from Tower Grove Park in south St. Louis. The park’s board of commissioners authorized the removal of the statue after petitioners called for it to be taken down, citing the explorer’s treatment of Native Americans.

The action by Page also comes at a time when statues and symbols around the country are being evaluated for what they stand for, such as NASCAR banning the Confederate flag at its races.

Page also announced Tuesday that county offices will be closed on Friday in recognition of Juneteenth. The holiday celebrates the official end of slavery in the U.S.

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.