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Five Points’ Aycock Street will be renamed Roanoke Park Drive, thanks in part to a petition led by Steve Mangano.
Steve Mangano has lived on Aycock Street for 20 years. The Five Points road—which runs from Glenwood Avenue to Reaves Drive—was named after Gov. Charles Aycock, one of the perpetrators of the Wilmington Massacre in 1898, in which a white mob, urged by Aycock, burned down a Black-owned newspaper and murdered at least 60 Black Wilmington residents.
Mangano and a few neighbors started a petition to change the name of the street in August 2020—following the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed—in an effort to build a brighter and more inclusive future in the Raleigh community.
“The name change is driven by a collective desire to recognize why and who was honored in the past and to remove those honors while creating a new history that represents this moment of racial justice,” says Mangano. “Rather than have a street named after someone who sowed division and hate, we can meet this moment in history and use it as an opportunity to build a new chapter.”
In May of this year, Raleigh City Council unanimously voted to change the name of Aycock Street to Roanoke Park Drive (a tribute to Roanoke Park, a place where people of all walks of life can come together and connect in a welcoming environment) after Mangano’s petition garnered signatures from property owners on the street. The road signs will be changed July 1.
Aycock Street is not the first white supremacist-related icon in Raleigh to go. Regency Centers renamed Cameron Village to the Village District earlier this year due to the name’s connection to the Cameron family, which was one of North Carolina’s largest slaveholders. Additionally, Raleigh’s tallest Confederate monument (formerly at the State Capitol grounds), as well as the statue of white supremacist and former The News & Observer publisher Josephus Daniels in Nash Square, were both removed in June 2020.
Mangano says that these changes “demonstrate to our kids the importance of inclusion and how the past can have an impact on the future.” By removing the name honoring Aycock, Raleigh is making not just an important statement as a community, but a needed step toward equity and unity. As one of Mangano’s friends put it, initiatives like this are a drop in the ocean, where every drop matters—and there are still lots of drops to be had.
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