State Sen. Lisa Gladden, a Baltimore Democrat, said she was joined by eight other Democratic co-sponsors in offering a proposal that would seek to create a commission to come up with new names by year’s end. She said new names are needed to more accurately reflect the history and culture of Maryland’s western Appalachian region near the state line with Pennsylvania.
Gladden said the name Negro Mountain has bothered her for years.
“Negro is a term that often has carried with it negative connotations about African-Americans,” Gladden told The Associated Press by telephone. “As we talk about inclusion and respect, Negro Mountain doesn’t fit.”
Yet lawmakers from the state’s mountainous western panhandle said the bill reflects political correctness taken to an extreme by legislators in Baltimore and Maryland’s Washington suburbs.
“It’s just asinine,” Delegate Kevin Kelly, an Allegany Democrat, told the Cumberland Times-News.
The bill revives a debate that last peaked in the mid-1990s when the Domestic Names Committee of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names refused to rechristen Negro Mountain as Black Hero Mountain. The committee found that the mountain’s name was not applied in a derogatory sense.
Supporters say Negro Mountain is dedicated to the heroism of an 18th century black man, though details are unclear. There is little in the historical record on the origins of the name Polish Mountain.
Sen. Jennie Forehand, a Montgomery Democrat, said both Negro and Polish mountains should have prettier names.
“Maybe I don’t know the history of how those mountains got named but I think if they were in my district, I would like to have a name that was perhaps more scenic,” she told AP.
Gladden’s proposal doesn’t include a call to rename another Maryland peak, Big Savage Mountain, but she said she also finds that name objectionable.