FLOWERY BRANCH – The citizen comments were unanimous; the city council vote was unanimous; the time had come to change the name of Jim Crow Road.
Members of the Flowery Branch City Council heard Thursday evening from half-a-dozen citizens and their messages were harmonious: the Jim Crow of Flowery Branch history was a man worth honoring, but the connotation that accompanies the name “Jim Crow” needed to be removed.
But the southern Hall County municipality only has authority to change the name of the portion of the roadway that lies completely within city limits, and that translates into about 400-feet, from the road’s origin at McEver Road to its intersection with Radford Road.
According to Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew, renaming the other 11,869-feet of Jim Crow Road falls under the purview of the Hall County Commission.
Mayor Mike Miller said he had spoken with District 1 Hall County Commissioner Kathy Cooper about Flowery Branch’s plan to rename the road under its control, and she told him she had been discussing the issue of a county-wide coordination with county staff. Miller said any further concerns by those in the audience should be directed to Cooper.
Miller began discussion of the resolution by sharing what he had learned about “Jim” Crow from speaking with Crow’s descendants, including his grandson, Randy Crow.
Miller said he was told that “Jim” was not the given name of the road’s namesake, rather it was Glennon. Miller said “Jimmy” was the name given to Glennon at an early age by his aunt who raised the young boy, and that Crow preferred to be known as “Jim” throughout the rest of his life.
Miller said he was also told Glennon “Jim” Crow owned much of the property along the 2-plus mile road connecting McEver Road with Old Federal Park, and that Crow operated a saw mill on the property.
During the Great Depression Glennon “Jim” Crow became widely known for helping those less fortunate, from providing them with food from his farm to supplying wooden caskets and burial clothing for destitute people who had passed.
He was also very civic-minded. “He was a driving force behind getting running water out to this area,” Miller said. “And he was one of the people who got us paving for our roads.”
Flowery Branch resident Diana Murphey told council members, “I’m not trying to take anything away from his family, or from the man and life of Glennon Crow, but when people see this sign they don’t know of this story, but they do know what Jim Crow was, though.”
Miller said grandson Randy Crow wanted everyone to know that his grandfather was not racist, and that he understood and agreed with the need to change the signage of the road named in his grandfather’s honor.
Diane O’Connell of Tascosa Drive said, “I have…learned about this man: what an incredible man he was, but the (road) sign doesn’t do him any justice at all.”
Mitchell Street resident Robert Sabbath told the council, “It’s not enough to be ‘non-racist’ anymore, we need to be anti-racist.”
Mayor Miller said, “It’s unfortunate his name is associated with (racism)…but perception is reality, and when people come to this community the perception is that we are a racist community…and that’s not something we need.”
The vote to change the name of Jim Crow Road to G.C. Crow Road within Flowery Branch city limits was unanimous.
City Manager Bill Andrew said once he has an opportunity to coordinate with Hall County and the Georgia D.O.T the protocol for changing the signs, work would begin immediately.