Why 4 Raleigh, NC spots changed names

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The Village District was renamed in 2021. | Photo by RALtoday

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Over the past two years, various long-standing Raleigh neighborhoods, shopping centers, and historic buildings have changed their names to acknowledge their historic ties with slave ownership. To answer lingering questions + confusion about these updates, we’re breaking down the history of why these name changes are significant.

By the 1860s, the Cameron family was the largest slave owning family in NC. Paul Cameron, his siblings, and the Bennehan family (who married into the Cameron family) profited from more than 900 enslaved people living on their 30,000-acre Stagville Plantation, located in Durham.

The following areas in the City of Oaks were renamed so as not to honor the slave-owning Cameron family.

Village District, renamed in January 2021

  • This shopping center, originally named Cameron Village, opened in 1946. After conversations with the Friends of Oberlin Village about the history of the name, owner Regency Centers changed the name to focus on the district’s merchants and shoppers.

Oberlin Regional Library, renamed in April 2022

  • This is the library’s second name change — Cameron Village Regional Library was renamed to Village Regional in March 2021. The library landed on its new name to honor Oberlin Village. This neighborhood is one of the last known surviving free and freedmen’s villages in NC that grew out of the Free Black period, which was named by James E. Harris, a former enslaved person + civil rights advocate who attended Oberlin College in Ohio.

Oberlin Village is a historically Black community rooted in freedom. | Photo by RALtoday

Oberlin Village Post Office, renamed in March 2022

  • Congresswoman Deborah Ross and the Friends of Oberlin Village led the charge in this name change. Previously named Cameron Village Post Office, the mailroom is located in the back of the Oberlin Baptist Church, which was founded by Plummer T. Hall, a former enslaved person.

Forest Park, renamed in March 2022

  • Residents voted 240 to 201 in favor of the name change from Cameron Park to Forest Park. This historic neighborhood on Hillsborough Street was built in the early 20th century and once excluded Black people from purchasing homes.

Recognize the families affected by the Camerons with this list of people who were enslaved by the family in the mid-1800s.

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