Md. Bill Seeks To Rename Negro, Polish Mountains

Some state lawmakers are looking to rename Negro Mountain and Polish Mountain in western Maryland.

Nine senators, none from the western region, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 3 in the General Assembly on Thursday. It would create a commission to rename the peaks by the end of this year.

The bill says the names should be changed to more accurately reflect the region's history and culture.

Democrat Lisa Gladden said the name Negro Mountain has irked her since she first saw it in 1998.

She said the word "Negro" has often carried negative connotations about African-Americans.

Western Maryland historians say Negro Mountain honors a free black man who acted heroically during the French and Indian War. And they say Polish Mountain may have originally been called Polished Mountain, but that the name changed over time.

And some legislators aren't too fond of a name change.

“It’s just asinine,” Delegate Kevin Kelly told the Cumberland Times-News. “I’m of Irish descent. We’d love to have a mountain named after us. Let’s rename it Irish Mountain.”

Delegate Wendell Beitzel told the paper he grew up on Negro Mountain and has a farm there.

"I don’t know why people in the Baltimore area are so worried about it,” Beitzel told the paper, adding that it was actually named in the language of the time in tribute to a black man’s heroism.

According to the Western Maryland Regional Library, a letter sent to the Maryland Gazette in 1756 by Thomas Cresap explained the name of the mountain:

It states that it was a free black man who had accompanied his volunteer rangers during the French and Indian War and who had died heroically in the battle while saving Cresap's life. Zumbrun notes that the mountain is named in honor of one of the earliest "free" black frontiersman on record in American colonial history.

A federal naming commission upheld the name Negro Mountain more than 15 years ago.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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