Board decides on road name

Published 11:13 am Wednesday, February 3, 2021

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Signpost Road is the new name voted on by the Southampton County Board of Supervisors. The unanimous decision took place on Jan. 26 following a public hearing and board discussion. Up until recently, it was known as Blackhead Signpost Road, a name weighted with what many residents consider racist connotations.

In 2020, the matter had already been before the Southampton Planning Commission, which recommended the board proceed with finding a way to change the name. Once that was made possible through an amendment to county code, the question became what should be the new name.

In addition to the aforementioned name, other suggestions offered by public input stood out:

  • “Alfred Road,” to honor the enslaved person that historical records indicate was the

person who was the subject of the horrific incident;

  • “Big Pumpkin Road,” a name suggested by a resident of the road who, along with her

husband, grows Virginia State Fair prize winning pumpkins; and

  • “Millpond Road,” the historical name of the road according to longtime county


Latoya Bynum, one of the speakers that night, identified herself as a member of Citizens for Change. She expressed her gratitude to Planning and the supervisors for their courage, and asked that they show that once more. She recommended Alfred Road as one that isn’t “as racially triggering,” and coupled with a pending marker, could tell fuller story. Bynum also suggested Signpost Road as a way to “minimize the heartburn” of the name change for residents living on that road.

Michelle Covington of Boykins, is also a member of Citizens for Change. She too commended the board and Planning for taking the “bold first steps” actions to amend the ordinance. This, she said, enables the county to “correct a wrong that has stood far too long.” Covington also promoted Alfred Road, and elaborated on the figure’s history.

A third speaker, Travis Parker of Franklin, also a member of the Citizens for Change, promoted Alfred Road. Using names such as Big Pumpkin or Millpond would have no history. But as a compromise, he offered Signpost Road.

Among the board discussion, William Gillette said he agreed to the name of Signpost Road. Carl Faison favored Alfred Road. Lynda Updike said she had always known the place as Millpond Road, but would support Signpost Road. Robert White is hopeful that name change would “hopefully not cause them too much heartache.” Chris Cornwell acknowledged that he was “not really excited about the names,” but agreed to Signpost.

Gillette made the motion that the board approve the new name to be Signpost Road, and all said yes.