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February 22, 2011

Lawmakers contemplate 'Negro Mountain'

A committee of senators today heard testimony about whether to rename Western Maryland's Negro Mountain.

Sen. Lisa Gladden is seeking a commission to study the issue. Many historians believe the peak, which crosses into Pennsylvania, is meant to honor a black frontiersman who died defending white settlers from Native Americans. In most accounts, his name is Nemesis.

"We're clear that Negro Mountain has a name," Gladden told her colleagues. "We need to make history as right as we can."

The Baltimore Democrat argues that the mountain should be called Nemesis Mountain. She was the only person to testify in favor of her proposal. Western Maryland's four lawmakers, all Republicans, testified against her, saying their constituents want to preserve the name out of respect for history.

"The point here is it was done in honor of, and I think that needs to be maintained," said Sen. George Edwards.

The senators on the Education, Health and Environment Committee had few questions, though some offered their views after the supporters and opponents testified.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore Democrat and a co-sponsor of Gladden's proposal, said she could not understand why the Western Maryland lawmakers oppose honoring the man with his name, rather than his race. Sen. Karen Montgomery, a Montgomery County Democrat, suggested that Americans might take issue with calling Washington, D.C., "White Man City," or Mount Whitney, "White Man's Mountain."

The House of Delegates has not set a hearing date on the issue. If the General Assembly were to approve Gladden's proposal, a renaming commission would be formed. Any change would need to be approved by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, which in 1994 rejected a Pennsylvania man's effort to rename the peak "Black Hero Mountain."

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 2:07 PM | | Comments (42)
Categories: 2011 legislative session


while it is admirable that Sen Gladden has taken up this issue, it is apparent that the local reps do not want to change the name. why not put it to a vote? if Sen. Gladden wants to take up an issue, how about removing Maryland My Maryland as the offical State song? it is a Confederate leaning, anti northern biased song calling one of our greatest President's a tyrant?

Senator Gladden is right. "Nemesis Mountain" is the name the mountain should have been given in the first place. "Negro Mountain" is dehumanizing. The point of all of this is that the man had a name, and this should be respected.

The people who are saying "Negro Mountain" preserves history are deluded. The only thing they want to preserve is prejudice.

Laughed so hard when I saw this headline on the front page.

No one has asked Kipling to change the name of his 1899 poem, "White Man's Burden". It is a haunting poem, yet a master piece. Any other name wouldn't be the same or would have lasted so long. Negro Mountain was an honor to the race and the man. Why make it less by changing it to the man's name. In the future people won't ride by and ask as I did as a child, "I wonder why that mountain is called Negro". It will be just another name. Now many want to know how it got it's name. Therefore, the man who may have been Nemesis lives on in our history. And old Big Spoon Creasap is probably smiling.

"Gladden told her colleagues. "We need to make history as right as we can.""

Yes, make the history you want it to be Gladden! I can;t wait until YOUR history!

I am so glad all our issues with budget problems are taken care of so this can be so important for our representatives to be working on. It is amazing what is important to our people in power. Jobs, taxes, schools, etc. No it is the name of some mountain in Western MD where she doesnt even represent. I am sure there are street names and other items in her distirct that need looked at for this issue.

I understand the controversy and why there would be an impetus to make the change, but with the limited time that the State Legislature is in session, don't they have more pressing issues that need to be addressed?

So if Negro Mountain is so bad, why in 2007 was a statue resurrected, in front of Baltimore City Hall, titled "Negro Soldier". The statue was designed by a Morgan State Professor / artist in the 70's. The statue holds a memorial called "Negro Heroes of the United States." This was put in front of City Hall in 2007. Do I need to reiterate that this was put up in 2007? In Baltimore City, which is Senator Gladden's district? Absolute hypocrite. She continually states that "we don't use that term anymore." If it's so derogatory, why was the word used recently by the black community, to honor the black community?

Senator Gladden - fix something's that broken, we all know your district has huge problems, and yet you overlook all of the problems in your city to waste legislative time in renaming a mountain that's over 100 miles from your district. What about the hundreds of people murdered in your district? Have you forgotten about your constituents?

Absolute silliness!

I guess this beats actually having to work, say, by working on legislation intended to put the state's fiscal house in order.

These people need to get a life, and one that doesn't impact mine. I don't need to spend my taxes for a bunch of losers to try and decided to change a Mt. name that's been there for years, is part of REAL history, and doesn't need to be addressed. There are WAY more IMPORTANT issues that need to be worked. These people need to go.

"Make history as right as we can"? Does Senator Gladen mean "We need to REwrite history so it tells the story WE want it tell"? How would she like it if Wstern Maryland senators wanted to shut down the Great Blacks in Wax Musem or the Black History Museum because, while other museums have displays of artists of all races and nationalities, those two are balatantly racist? Bet THAT wouldn't go over too well, would it?

Shouldn't Gladden be more concerned with the cesspool that is Baltimore?
What is the big issue here?
And before you fly off the handle here at me my children are of mixed heritage-black/white.
Or is that politically incorrect too?
I want my children to be aware of their past and I do not want that past changed one bit.
And I encouraged them to read the unedited version of Huckleberry Finn!

I am an African-American student and a resident of Sen. Gladden's district. I certainly don't like the name, but the state has much more critical issues than this one. We should just put the issue on the statewide ballot in MD and PA for the next election and let the voters decide. If both states' voters want to change the name, it should be changed

Our elected representatives should be spending the money the taxpayers give them on MORE IMPORTANT issues like CRIME< UNEMPLOYMENT, BALANCE THE STATE BUDGET, police and fireman, just to name a few. Let's stop trying to re-write the past and get on with present .

Negro please.

Gladden's a fool. Silliness such as this invites disrespect.

What a load of rubbish for the politicians to be spending time on.
The economy is in the crapper and people are out of work.
Now with the middle east and Libya unrest. Fear is going to put gas over $4.00 before we know it.

They should leave well enough alone. This mountain should keep it's name. It is there with the name for all African-Americans. Why does the state feel they should re-name Negro Mountain? Let the state take care of the immediate concerns of the state instead of all this re-naming.

Then we must get to that old tired word COLORED as in National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People!

When Gladden wants to change that to suit her feelings on how history should read, I may believe she has an ounce of credibility! Until then, DO SOMETHING WORTHWHILE Gladden.

A valley located in Glacier County, Montana is called White Man's Coulee. A cemetery in Romney, West Virginia is called Indian Mound which includes an Indian mound dating between 500 BC & 1000 AD. There are two highly reputable organizations called the United Negro College Fund and the National Association for Advancement of Colored People. People should say, I'm a Marylander or a West Virginian - I'm a New Yorker or a Washingtonian. And we all are Americans. The only thing that separates us should be our districts where we live.

just like the guy on the other blog said the rights to this mountain should be put up for sale it is the american way 100% i can hear george washington now let the bidding begin do i hear 100million...

"The squeaky wheel gets the oil".......Come on Native Americans....squeak...., how come the "only" TRUE Americans don't have their own holiday? They were treated worse than any other race in this nation, even worse than slaves, but they don't seem to complain even after everything was taken from them. That does say something for the Native Americans though. I am not prejudice or a racist however it becomes quite ridiculous that certain races always complain about how they were oppressed by others and want their heritage upgraded so others will like them better. First it was Negros, then Blacks, then African Americans. In fact all who aren't Native Americans should be called properly, Irish Americans, Polish Americans, German Americans, Jewish Americans. I'm not upset that a Mountain in Pennsylvania is called Indian Mountain. It's just a name, so stop trying to re-write history the way they want it. It is what it is and if you don't like it....leave this America and complain in your own country and see how far that goes.

Puleese! Aren't we past all of that yet? These people, in Annapolis, have much bigger fish to fry like trying to keep the state from filing bankruptcy or having or keeping the government's nose out of the peoples business.

If this goes through, they'll want to change the "White Marsh' name to something else.

Get real lives people!!!!

When I was young, I grew up near a place called N----- Hill. I'm still stunned at the outcry that ensued when people started pushing to have the name changed. They used the same arguments to keep the name as the people here do.

I would certainly agree that "Negro" doesn't really insult anyone to the degree that the other N-word does. But why wouldn't you just call people what they want to be called. Who cares if it was colored, then negro, then black, then African American? It may sound silly to continue to change terms. But we do this for branded goods all the time. And this is done without consideration of people's feelings. Why not allow people to be called what they want to be called instead of using language that some might find insulting?

People don't care if you "get it wrong", as long as they think you are trying.

While it sounds nice to want to re-name the mountain after the man himself, there is no way to know that fact. In some tales he is known as Goliath. In others, Nemesis.

Negro is not a derogatory word any more than is Caucasian or Mongoloid--the three recognized races of mankind. And yes, there is a mountain range named after Caucasians. How many white people are offended by that?

Given the state of the state, it's time for the legislature to move on to serious issues rather than attempting to rewrite history.

Could something be done about the crime in Baltimore, MD? When I was at Johns Hopkins several years ago staying with my mom when she had surgery, I had to be escorted at night to my car or to my room acrossed the street from the hospital. As a matter of fact, the security guards wouldn't allow me to go out at night without an escort when I said, "It's ok, I'm just running to my car for something". If I have to go to Hopkins again for a family member, would you mind making it a little safer for a middle aged woman to go out at night? I'm sure the Hopkins employees and students would appreciate that too.

Americans might take issue with calling Washington, D.C., "White Man City," or Mount Whitney, "White Man's Mountain."

What issue? I love Whitney Houston!

I don't understand why Lisa Gladden and her eight co-sponsors find the names of Negro, Polish, and Big Savage mountains to be insensitive and or objectionable. In this day of budget deficits and high unemployment due to lack of funds, can't they think of anything better on which to spend taxpayers dollars? Have they given any thought to how much it will cost to fund the commission and update all of the signage, maps, flyers, etc with new names? Of course, if they are willing to pay for all of the changes out of their own pockets, I might not find this proposal quite so offensive. I feel that these mountains that have had these names since the 1700's and should not need to be given new "scenic" names.

Yes, by all means let us have more commissions and study groups. Let us be vigilant in our political correctness. Let us revise the past so it fits our personal concept of the present. Let us change the names of the United Negro College Fund, the National Council of Negro Women,the Negro Ensemble Company and the Negro League Baseball Museum. And we can also change the name of the French and Indian War to the French and Native American War. What abject silliness this all is.

Leave teh name alone and stop trying to rewrite history during every legislative session. There a far more important things the Fools On The Hill to worry about.

Why do you only post half of what was typed as a opinion. I posted that the time and money spent on this foolish issue would be better served trying to balance the budget, unemployment and other problems we face now. Stop trying to rewrite history. This is a waste of TAXPAYERS MONEY!!

Rename Negro Mountain? That idea is doubleplusgood!

While we're at it, let's make a list of all "offensive" place names and rename them. Starting with "United States of America."

The problem with all the counter-examples cited is one of false equivalency; the mountain is named after a specific person, who, whether his name is Goliath or Nemesis, has a name.

The counter-examples all refer to groups or generic individuals: NAACP, UNCF, "Negro Soldier" statue, "White Man's Burden". I can't find any info about Indian Mountain, but I doubt it's named for any particular person.

"White Marsh" is even worse; that's obviously named for the color white.

That said, I tend to agree that this is a pretty silly thing to be considering given all else that could be considered, but it's being reported simply because it's potentially controversial, not because it's the only thing the Senate is reviewing.

Poor show Senator Gladden. If you took the time to get familiar with the culture in Western MD, you'd learn that there are people who are willing to work with you to come up with a solution that is historically accurate and culturally appropriate (and it wouldn't require legislation or a tax-payer funded commission). Instead, you're making the situation worse by painting stereotypes on the people of Western MD and heightening their distaste and distrust of legislators in Annapolis.

"Negro is not a derogatory word any more than is Caucasian or Mongoloid"

Apparently this genius doesn't have any Asian friends. Many Asians find this term demeaning because of its association with mental retardation.

I guess Lake Habeeb got a pass? Baltimore City College are the Black Knights if I recall right? North East and Wicomico High Schools are the Indians?

How about nearby Polish Mountain. All of the strip mining that I see while driving over I -68 is insulting to my Polish heritage. Then there's Savage Mountain. Sounds like a reference to early Native Americans to me. Rename it. Got to make history right.
But the most insulting of all is Backbone Mountain. To allow a corporate entity to level flat several miles of ridge line to build obscenely out-of -proportion, out- of -scale, windmills with no regards to the residents or the beauty of Garrett County all in the name of being 'green' shows a lack of backbone. Let's rename it Moron Mountain in honor of all of the politicians that let this little bit of unchangeable history happen.

And what's wrong with Polish Mountain? I'm of Polish descent, and there's absolutely nothing offensive about that. And Savage Mountain? What about the Savage River and Savage MD? While we're at it, let's change the Eastern Shore town of Crapo's name to "Nice-o?"

Why can't people acknowledge that when the mountain was named "Negro Mountain", that the namers were giving homage to the deed as well as to the individual. A person of color performed an act that lives on in history because of his race. If the mountain had been named "Nemesis", who would have cared. Just another name. If not for it being named "Negro", who would have known the story other than some locals? Instead, regardless of whether the story is known, African Americans can say that there is a mountain in Western Maryland named for an act performed by one of them. Not a bad monument.

I am from Western Maryland. Polish Mountain is not named after the Polish people. The type of trees on that mountain shine in the sunshine, giving the appearance that it was "polished." Perhaps Mrs. Gladden should educate herself before declaring others ignorant.

I don't think people from this part of the state have a problem with renaming Negro mountain. The issue is that it comes from a Senator in Baltimore who has done nothing to learn about who lives on Negro Mountain. It seems that the leaders from the cental Maryland counties care more about the quality of our streams and forests and the names of our mountains then they do about the enduring poverty at our end of the state. That is more insulting than a name.

My first vist to this part of Maryland was 45 years ago, and even tho the air of discrimination was open for busness in most of the state, this left me with a sense of pride to see such a rare occurrence, something named to aknowledge a person of color for the ultimate sacrifice. So that we can understand the trends that occurs are not a reason to change history but a reason to teach it today.

I am from the South, and most of you have to be kidding! We are the ones called "racist", yet you are even arguing that something named "Negro" is not discriminatory? You have got to be kidding me. Obviously, way to many insensitive, uneducated, and ill-informed people have responded to this issue. If it were a mountain in the South named "Negro" Mountain, I am sure all of you Northerners would be raising Hell about it. I am in total disbelief that any of you would not think that the name of the mountain shouldn't be changed. What's next? You all approve that there are separate bathrooms for the "Negroes" and the "Whites"? This is 2011 and even in the "allegedly" still "racist" South, this would have been changed long ago.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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