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City of Savannah to Dedicate Taylor Square Feb. 10
SAVANNAH (Jan. 17, 2024) – The City of Savannah will dedicate Taylor Square, formerly known as Calhoun Square, on February 10, 2024 with day-long event and sign unveiling.
The community celebration will begin at 11 a.m. with a dedication ceremony that will feature several speakers, musical acts, and clergy. Around noon, City officials and community members will unveil the new Taylor Square sign. The streets around Taylor Square will be closed to vehicle traffic from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
From noon to 2 p.m., a community celebration will be held in the square featuring local musical acts, dancers, as well as educational tables. In the evening, beginning at 6 p.m., there will be a reflection with libations and music.
Last week, in the first meeting of 2024, Savannah City Council approved the installation of a granite marker in Taylor Square which will note that the square was once named for U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun who was a staunch supporter of slavery and will now be named for Susie King Taylor.
“This will be a momentous day for Savannah and for our nation,” Mayor Van R. Johnson, II said. “For the first time in our 290-year history, we will have a square name honoring a person of color, a woman, and a formerly enslaved person. I am proud of the work that has been done by our community and the Savannah City Council to adequately honor those who have too often been forgotten by history books. We’re excited for the unveiling event. We invite everyone to join us as we continue to make history.”
In November of 2022, the 139th City of Savannah Administration voted to remove the name of John C. Calhoun from the square. Following nearly a year-long process engaging the community, Savannah City Council voted in October of 2023 to rename the square in honor of Susie King Taylor.
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About Susie King Taylor
Susie Baker King Taylor (August 6, 1848 – October 6, 1912) achieved many firsts in a lifetime spent overcoming adversity and helping elevate others out of slavery. Born into slavery in Liberty County, Ga., she moved to Savannah at age seven to live with her grandmother. Though illegal, she attended two secret schools taught by Black women. In April 1862, she fled to Union occupied St. Simons Island, where she established a school and became the first Black teacher openly teaching African Americans in Georgia. Her students included 40 children and “a number of adults who came to me nights, all of them so eager to learn to read, to read above anything else.”
Married in 1862 to Edward King, a Black Union officer, she moved with his regiment for the duration of the Civil War, serving as a nurse, laundress, and teacher. Postwar, she opened a private school for freedmen’s children in Savannah. Widowed and working as a domestic servant by the 1870s, she moved to Boston, Mass., where she married Russell Taylor. There she became heavily involved with the Women’s Relief Corps, a national organization for female Civil War veterans. As the author of Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S.C. Volunteers (1902), she was the only African American woman to publish a memoir of her wartime experiences.