FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On Tuesday, Fayetteville City Council voted to table the proposal to rename Archibald Yell Boulevard to Nelson Hackett Boulevard.
The decision to table the proposal was made so that business owners along the road could have time to learn more about the proposal and give input.
According to the Nelson Hackett Project by the University of Arkansas, Hackett was an enslaved man in Fayetteville who fled to Canada for freedom. Archibald Yell was governor of Arkansas at the time. Indictments from Washington County as well as a formal request from Yell brought Hackett back to the United States and back into slavery.
J.L. Jennings, chair of the Black Historic Preservation Commission, said renaming the street would tell a story that’s rarely told in Fayetteville.
“Mr. Hackett’s journey and triumphing over freedom, over oppression, definitely is something that I think can resonate with Fayetteville’s population,” Jennings said.
While at the city council meeting, a couple of Fayetteville residents voiced their opposition to the renaming because they said they didn’t want Yell’s impact on Arkansas to be forgotten.
Jennings also said he and the commission understand the logistical challenges of renaming a street but said the change is still worth it.
“It’s not lost on the commission the work that goes into changing the name of the street, but the significance of that name change for just inclusion and creating a sense of inclusion for everyone in Fayetteville is important,” Jennings said.
Fayetteville City Council did approve adding a plaque detailing the history of Nelson Hackett to be added to the downtown square.