Laurel Library Renovation Leads to Name Controversy

Library named in honor of Confederate soldier

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The renovation of a Laurel library is gaining notoriety -- it's being named after a Confederate soldier. News4's Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins has the story. (Published Thursday, Mar 6, 2014)

    The most popular library in Prince George’s County is getting a multimillion dollar renovation, and some say it should get a new name.

    Named in honor of a Confederate soldier, the Laurel Branch Stanley Memorial Library has been a centerpiece of the community for 47 years.

    Laurel resident Maureen Johnson is one of those with concerns about the name.

    “People are taking sides like it’s the Civil War all over again,” she said.

    When she heard they wanted to carry the old name to the new library, she deiced to go online to do a little research. She wasn’t surprised to learn Charles Stanley was the second mayor of Laurel and a former comptroller of Maryland, but the part about him fighting for the Confederacy gave her pause.

    Johnson finds that especially unnerving since the library sits next to Emancipation Park.

    “This is a park that has a celebration – whole parade, picnic and everything -- every year celebrating the freedom of slaves,” she said.

    “He was in support of slavery,” said anthropologist and former Laurel Historical Society member Dr. Sidney Moore. “That would be the only reason he would go and support the Confederacy.”

    She agrees his name shouldn’t carry over to the new library.

    “He’s had his memorial for 47 years and now it’s time to move on,” she said.

    “Obviously the Stanley name is very important to our community,” city spokesperson Pete Piringer said.

    The city is more focused on Stanley’s work as a politician in Laurel and the fact that his family deeded the land for the library, Piringer said. That’s why the council and mayor want it to stay.

    “It’s the fact that it is the Stanley Library,” Piringer said. “We want to keep it that way. The mayor and council members want to keep it that way.”