For years, when friends asked Beau and Rhonda Gilbo where they lived, the Missouri City couple would mumble the answer.
The Vicksburg Village of Shiloh neighborhood, where the Gilbos have lived since 2006, stands out both for its pretty, brick homes that often sell for more than $300,000 and also its affinity for the Confederacy.
Many of the neighborhood’s streets, including Confederate Drive and Bedford Forrest Court, have long stood as a reminder of an ugly past, according to the Gilbos, a Black family that lives on Confederate Drive.
“I know Texas is part of the south, and a lot of this is expected, to a certain degree,” Beau Gilbo said. “But we shouldn’t have to.”
The Missouri City council on Monday unanimously approved on a first reading a petition from the street’s residents to rename Confederate Drive as Prosperity Drive, according to city documents. The move was made possible by the decision in 2020 to lower the threshold for the percentage of residents that must sign on to renaming a street from 90 percent to 70 percent, Councilman Jeffrey Boney said.
“This petition fosters a sense of the majority,” Boney said. “This is consensus. It’s what a majority of people on the street want.”
After putting their mind toward making the change, it only took the Gilbos a few days of gathering signatures to come up with the required 70 percent, according to their petition documents.
While only their own street is currently up to change, Rhonda Gilbo hopes this is the beginning of a movement to rename other streets in the neighborhood, she said.
“It’s funny you should ask, we’re on Confederate Drive and since the meeting, we’ve had residents on Confederate Court say they were looking at the possibility of doing the same,” she said.
Other nearby street names include Beauregard Court, named after Confederate general officer Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard, who commanded the defenses that fired on Fort Sumter to start the Civil War, and Bedford Forrest Court, named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, another Confederate general who commanded troops that massacred hundreds of Black soldiers fighting for the Union at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.
After the war, Forrest would go on to become the first grand master of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Gilbos’ fight to change their neighborhood echoes a larger conversation taking place across the country. Since late June 2020, more than 50 Confederate-named schools have changed their names, including 29 in Texas and Virginia alone, according to a 2020 article in EducationWeek.
About 180 schools in 19 states currently bear the names of people connected to the Confederacy, according to the article.
One resident on the Gilbos’ street opposed renaming it, but everyone else supported it, the couple said.
Given how much an address appears in your life – on a driver’s license, on letters, etc. – it seemed important to get the name changed, Rhonda Gilbo said.
Residents along the street will have to cover about $1,900 to pay for new signs and other costs associated with the change, Boney said.
The city will be responsible for notifying the U.S. Postal Service and other public entities of the street name change, but residents will have to notify companies about personal services, officials said.
The council must still approve the request on a second reading at a future meeting.