Council renames Carr Street for city’s first black council member, Braxton Foushee

Braxton Foushee, the first Carrboro Black Council Member. Photo courtesy of Town of Carrboro.


By Fraser Sherman

Carrboro will rename East and West Carr Street as Braxton Foushee Street despite objections from some Carr residents that the city didn’t give them advance notice of the change.

Julian Carr, for whom Carrboro and Carr Street were named, was a Confederate veteran and white supremacist who once bragged about whipping a black woman until her dress was in tatters. Foushee is a local civil rights activist and the first black member of the town council. His wife, Barbara Foushee, is the current mayor—the ordinance before the council renamed Carr Street for Foushee and renumbered the houses.

Homeowner Dick Forbis said Foushee deserved to have a street named after him but the city should have notified Carr residents sooner: “We’ve only had 24 hours to think about this process.” He said that was unfair, given that residents will have to change their passport deeds, notify the post office, and update other records.

Notification was a sticking point for several people who addressed the council. So was the length of the name: some speakers suggested it would be simpler to make one part of the road Braxton and the other half Foushee Street.

Town Planning Director Trish McGuire said the city offered assistance to residents with incomes lower than 80 percent of the area median to cope with the cost of changing their paperwork. McGuire said while the council green-lit the name change in November, the details of the assistance program weren’t worked out until early February, which delayed notification.

“I cannot imagine on what timeline I would be happy to update my own passport,” council member Danny Nowell said , but he motioned to approve the ordinance. “We are asking a small number of people to carry a burden for the rest of us, but I feel very secure in the majority’s interest.”

With Mayor Foushee recusing herself, the council voted unanimously for the motion. The ordinance takes effect March 27.

The council also voted to approve extending the jurisdiction of the city’s water utility, the Orange Water And Sewer Authority (OWASA) to the Chatham County line. This required amending an agreement between Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and Orange County covering the scope of their respective water and sewer operations.

Supporters of the expansion said providing water and sewer service would open up the area for affordable housing. Critics worried about the environmental impact and said the city couldn’t guarantee how much affordable housing would be built.

The council also approved $184,000 in grants for affordable housing projects.

Fraser Sherman has worked for newspapers, including the Destin Log, the Pensacola News-Journal and the Raleigh Public Record. Born in England, he’d still live in Florida if he hadn’t met the perfect woman and moved to Durham to marry her. He’s the author of several film reference books and has published one novel and several short story collections.

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