In Annapolis, Circle Wagons For Unity

The American Heritage Dictionary defines unity in several ways. It can mean the state of being one. It can mean singleness of purpose or action.

Sounds to us like a great pair of themes for Annapolis to take into the new millennium by giving the name Unity Circle to the new traffic circle at Taylor Avenue and West Street.

Unfortunately, there is a shortage of unity in Annapolis on what should be a simple task. It seems the parties charged with bestowing a name on the city's $7.9 million project can't agree on what to call it.

Nearly a year after the simple but powerful name Unity Circle was floated, the decision has been shunted about like an ugly pup.

The name surfaced in the aftermath of a Ku Klux Klan rally last February as a symbol of Annapolitans' unified contempt for the forces of hate. Alderman Cynthia A. Carter, a Ward 6 Democrat, introduced a resolution for the Unity Circle name. Then Mayor Dean Johnson consigned it to a citizens' committee, where it has languished since.

Unity Now, the group that suggested the name, wants Johnson to return the naming responsibility to the Board of Aldermen. We agree.

Citizens committees are fine - except when they lapse into inertia. And that's what's happened, for a year, as other names not nearly as smart and meaningful have been tossed around. Letting the aldermen decide isn't exactly a retreat from democracy. Don't we elect aldermen to make important decisions?

We don't need another structure named for politicians. Memories are short, and once a legend dims, a name doesn't ring many bells or summon much pride. The name Gateway Circle, which city officials have called it, doesn't evoke anything especially Annapolitan for us. (We think of St. Louis, the Gateway City, and wonder if Annapolis would need to erect a giant arch.)

Even when memories of 1998's city-wide anti-Klan protest dim, Unity Circle - uniting as it does Annapolis' historically black and white neighborhoods - is a name with a story to tell. It's not a radical name; it's an expression of solidarity.

This is a case of thinking 20, 50 and 100 years into the future when a single event will be long forgotten. Will any single Annapolitan have contributed so much as to deserve to be recalled by countless people hourly? In our part of the world, we're already stuck with a welter of names of forbearers that mean little to people heading into the 21st century.

Why not pick something simple yet profound? Let's be decisive. For a switch, let's have unity.

| Issue 1 |

Volume VII Number 1
January 7-13, 1999
New Bay Times

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