Georgia renames square after first black Civil War nurse

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A public square in Georgia’s oldest city has been renamed after a black woman who played a major role in the US Civil War.

Born into slavery in 1848, Susie King Taylor was highly educated at a young age despite laws banning education for black people in southern states.

Her name replaces a pro-slavery former US vice-president.

This is the first time in 140 years that Savannah has renamed one of its town squares.

The decision by the Savannah city council comes after they considered several other names for the square – previously named after John C Calhoun – a staunch advocate for slavery in the decades preceding the US Civil War.

Taylor was taught at secret schools as a child. After fleeing slavery to find protection with Union troops, she became a teacher at the age of 14. She went on to become a nurse, an educator and the only black woman to write a memoir of the war.

She served as a military nurse, and went on to found schools for black children after the war.

Before her death in 1912, she became the only black woman to publish a personal account of the war.

The square

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The square – the first to be named after a woman – will bear a plaque with the old name and an explanation for the change.

“It’s one thing to make history. It’s something else to make sense. And in this case, we’re making both,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said, according to the Associated Press.

He also noted that there are now five black women on the nine-member city council, saying that people in Taylor’s lifetime “never would have fathomed” the sight of black women in such a role.

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Related Topics

  • Slavery
  • United States

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