Old Slave Road Controversy in the News

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.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeff P says:

    Spiceberry Lane? Is that what they are changing it to? I find that disturbing and offensive.

    Old Slave Cemetery Road is a good suggestion, as it retains the historical significance and adds clarity.

  2. Germaine Murray says:

    Old Slave Road IS GONE–was just there today. Also, it seems that the cemetery is on private land so it’s hard to access. Some mean dogs were there to keep me away. This land should be marked.

    1. k says:

      I see that the current (Aug 2021) Google street view of this street’s intersection with Wild Horse Creek Rd does indeed show only the Spiceberry Lane sign.

      As for accessing the cemetery, isn’t it a safe assumption that the land is privately owned unless otherwise marked? Many writings on this cemetery indicate that it’s not for public access.

      1. cnaffziger says:

        I agree that if the road name is changed–and it seems like the momentum seems to be going that way this year–there has to be something to commemorate the cemetery permanently now. The land is private, as far as I know.

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