Named after slaveowner, Wake County to rename its largest library

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Wake County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to change the name of a Raleigh library named after one of the largest slave owners in the region.

Cameron Village Regional Library will now be known as “Village Regional Library.” The decision came a month after the entire Cameron Village shopping center was rebranded as “Village District.”

“It aligns with what we believe in terms of the values that we want to have in our county,” said Wake County commissioner Maria Cervania.

The land the shopping center was built on once held enslaved people. It was named for Duncan Cameron, who was one of the largest slave owners east of the Mississippi, according to Friends of Oberlin Village executive director Sabrina Goode.

While his main home was in Orange County, Cameron’s summer home was along present-day Hillsborough Street near St. Mary’s School.

“Wake County embraces and celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Wake County Commissioner Shinica Thomas. “We want all residents to feel comfortable and respected when they visit any of our buildings.”

At 36,000 square feet, the library is the largest in Wake County.

But many places in the area still bear the Cameron name. That could be changing for businesses, complexes and streets.

“We’re not over, it’s not completed yet. We will get the job done until every last thing that we own is transitioned,” said Cervania.

Raleigh Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin says her team is awaiting a report to see if any street names near The Village are tied to Duncan Cameron or other slave-owning families. Her team also looking for ways to highlight the city’s Black history. 

Meanwhile, WakeMed decided not to name two facilities in the area “WakeMed Cameron” after receiving community feedback.

Some disagree with the rebranding process and the $5,000 from the community general fund being spent on it.

“I think this is a bunch of symbolic nonsense to be completely honest. Five thousand dollars buys a lot of books that can go in that library for children,” said Joey Stansbury of the Wake County Citizens Coalition.

However, Sabrina Goode of Friends of Oberlin Village says the changes are needed. The group is gathering money to cover the permit process in hopes of changing the street name Cameron Manor Way, which is located in a new condo development in The Village. 

“I would simply say let’s put it in the history books. It doesn’t belong on a street sign,” said Goode.

Commissioners say the library name change is already being updated on digital media and graphics.

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