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Locals weigh in on renaming Troy street

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Emma Daniel

Staff Writer

Debate continues to revolve around the effort to rename South George Wallace Drive, with Troy residents at odds.

The effort to rename the street lies in whether the state or the city of Troy owns it, according to City Clerk Alton Starling.

Starling said he was not sure which entity owned the street, and the course to rename it would depend on the ownership.

“If it’s within city limits, the City Council can rename the street,” Starling said. “If the city owns it, it’ll be a lengthy process and require debate.”

He said the businesses and residents on the street would be affected by a name change, requiring those along South George Wallace Drive to change checks, books and advertisements noting the location of the business or residence.

“It would be a pretty good financial impact,” Starling said. “It’s going to take some time.”

Carter Ray, a sophomore geomatics and land surveying major from Troy, said he doesn’t think the street should be renamed.

“(Wallace) gave a lot of support to Troy University,” he said. “Wallace contributed so much during his term as governor.

“His best friend in college and roommate was Ralph Wyatt Adams, who was president (of Troy State University). We never had to beg for anything.”

Ray said he believes Wallace’s admission of wrongdoing and apology, and he believes a later record number of African-American appointments to state office clears his name.

“I think if we want to truly be progressive, we need to stop looking at the negative,” Ray said. “Let’s look at the positives; let’s look at the fact Governor Wallace apologized and admitted he was wrong and ashamed of the mistakes he made in the past.

“He bettered himself and made an effort to turn away from his past stances to make better for the state, and I think he should be honored for that.

“That outweighs the bad.”

Jamie Messick, who lives in and is from Troy, said he supports the effort to rename South George Wallace Drive. While Messick said he admits that Wallace did help expand education in Alabama, his impact “made Alabamians look like the worst stereotypes associated with the South.”

“First, there are moral reasons, which are George Wallace’s support for segregation, pandering to and enabling of racists and widespread corruption during his governorships,” Messick said. “The practical reason is George Wallace’s name outside of Alabama only provokes images of his stand in the schoolhouse door.

“Put simply, keeping it named after Wallace is terrible marketing for our city.”

Messick said he believes the bad Wallace outweighs the good, both locally and nationally.

“He brought the politics of hate and irrational rage to the national stage, where it remains to this day,” Messick said. “His presidential campaigns set the precedent for going to war against the young and the outsiders while hiding behind it the cloak of glib populism.”