Update: The Wildwood City Council voted to keep the name in 2013; there has been no other effort to change the name since then. I went back to look for the cemetery a week after this post. In 2022, there were renewed efforts to rename the road.
Long time readers of my site know that I have frequently covered the history of far western St. Louis County, and have attempted to emphasize that slavery was very much a real facet of life in Antebellum Missouri. One poignant relic of that unfortunate past, Old Slave Road, which I have covered in the past, has been in the news recently, as several residents are attempting to change the name to something more suitably yuppie and non-offensive. St. Louis County has frequently tried to erase the memory of African Americans in the county, and this is no different. One thing I did not realize is the name of the road only dates back to the 1970’s, and it traces the route of an old footpath that slaves used to access a cemetery, where there are at least fifty unmarked slave burials. This quote from the article sums up everything:
“I think Elijah Madison Lane over Old Slave Road would be a lot nicer, It would be more accepting. It would be more inviting. Trying to explain to people you live on Old Slave Road, there’s just so much you have to go into.”
My opinion is that you shouldn’t live in the middle of a former plantation where atrocities were committed, on the ground where human beings were enslaved, their rights trampled, their families separated, their work unpaid, if you don’t want to have to deal with the ugly aspects of the history of America. Old Slave Road, or at least renamed to Old Slave Cemetery Road, must stay.