The renaming of Gillespie Hall at Belhaven University reminds us that names come and go. The choice of one over another imperceptibly impacts one’s quality of life. Accepting change is advantageous.
The Bard of Avon allowed,
“What's in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet...”
Life is undiminished because Bombay became Mumbai, Madras became Chennai, Peking became Beijing, Burma became Myanmar, Siam became Thailand, Czechoslovakia became Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Yugoslavia became Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.
Fortunately Jackson needs no new name notwithstanding the imminent removal of Old Hickory’s statue beside the City Hall. There are enough Jacksons that the current moniker can remain, with individuals deciding whether Jackson honors Jesse Jackson, Mahalia Jackson, Maynard Jackson, or Michael Jackson.
If Thomas Hinds suffers a checkered past, the famous 1970 Voter Education Project poster reading, “Hands that pick cotton... now can pick our elected officials” suggests a simple solution: Hands County.
Calvin Coolidge’s January 17, 1925 quote, “After all, the chief business of the American people is business,” offers opportunity to rename counties after businesses. For instance, Rankin County can become Banking County.
John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de La Fayette, James Lawrence, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Montgomery, Oliver Hazard Perry, Zebulon Pike, Joseph Warren, Anthony Wayne, and Daniel Webster seem unsullied by slaveholding. Counties named for them are presumably protected.
Forrest County will be the first casualty. Being that the area of the state is called the Pine Belt, the second “r” can be dropped and the county renamed Forest.
Additional branding opportunities, with which to promote tourism and commerce, include Alcorn’s becoming Sweet Corn, Claiborne Newborn, Covington Covey of Quail, George Gorgeous, Greene Green, Hancock Peacock, Holmes Homes, Jefferson Heifer Cow, Jones Phones, Kemper Temple, Lamar L’amour, Leake Peak, Lee Me, Leflore Flower, Lowndes Sounds, Madison Summer Sun, Marion Marryin’, Marshall Martial, Monroe Money, Newton Shootin’, Prentiss Printers, Scott Hot, Smith Smile, Stone Loan, Tate Great, Wilkinson Winter Sun, and Winston Smokeless (referencing when Winstons were the best-selling cigarettes).
Benton can adopt the airs of Menton, on the French Riviera, while DeSoto can be Delightful; Humphreys Humpty Dumpty; and Walthall Valhalla.
Calhoun can become Greyhound; Clarke Bark; and Sharkey Shark Tooth.
To entice those enamored of monarchy, Harrison County can co-opt the name of Prince Harry’s son Archie Harrison, and Simpson County can take the name of the American divorcée for whom Edward VIII abdicated, Wallis Simpson.
Carroll County can become Carol County.
Given that we inhabit a time of scolds and “Gotcha!” Lauderdale can become Tattletale County. In the event that enmities are eliminated through renaming, Washington can become Washing Machine County.
Clay can endeavor to be PRAY: It would be a welcome sight on license tags as would the Psalmist KING DAVID for Jefferson Davis.
Lest anyone be fearful: Reconceiving the future can create a Mississippi Renaissance.
A friend whose father-in-law was Bob Hope once answered inquiry whether Bob Hope was as funny in person as on stage in the affirmative, telling me that Delores Hope asked her husband what arrangements were desired after his death so often that, ultimately, he responded, “Delores, just surprise me.”
Similarly I could care less about what polities are called after I am dead and gone. Of greater consequence is the quality of the quotidian while I live. More important battles exist than what cities and counties are called.
Jay Wiener is a Northsider.