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."