The intersection of Bragg Boulevard and Fort Bragg Street in Fayetteville, seen here on July 11, 2022. Ben Sessoms / Carolina Public Press

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 Fort Bragg may soon go by another name: Fort Liberty.

In last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, Congress charged the Naming Commission with renaming any military installation whose name commemorates the Confederacy.

Fort Bragg is named after North Carolina native Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general and slave owner prior to the Civil War. 

The Naming Commission released the potential new name of Fort Bragg, along with eight other military installation names that commemorate the Confederacy, in April.

In October, the commission will present the new names to Congress for review, after which the U.S. Department of Defense will implement the new names by Jan. 1, 2024, per the federal legislation.

According to documents from the Naming Commission, Liberty was chosen as a name due to its value being “more essential to the United States of America and the history of its military” than any other.

Views on name change

Jimmy Buxton, president of Fayetteville’s NAACP chapter, said that, while growing up in the area, he wasn’t aware that Bragg was named after a Confederate general. But after learning the history in adulthood, he supports the change.

“If you have a chance to correct it, correct it,” he said, referring to the racist history of Confederate monuments and commemorations.

Some, however, feel differently about the name change.

Grilley Mitchell, president of the Cumberland County Veterans Council, said he viewed the name change as erasing history.

“You should never try to erase history,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that he that (does) not learn from history (is) doomed to repeat it.”

Mitchell, a Black man who grew up in the Jim Crow south in Georgia, said the name change won’t heal the racist past of that era.

“Changing the name, it’s not going to heal anything, it’s not going to fix anything,” he said. “To me, it covers it up by putting a coat of paint on something.”

Mitchell said the history involved with the name of Fort Bragg shouldn’t be ignored.

“That’s just the truth, this history,” he said. “That’s the ugly part of history in this nation. That is something that we should understand and know that no human being that walks the face of this Earth should be subjected and treated in that manner. Period.”

Mitchell did say he recognized that some view the name change as stopping the glorification of Confederate figures.

“Some feel and believe that taking that name away would allow them to move forward with that part of the past behind them,” he said.

Buxton said, speaking specifically to white people who oppose the renaming, that change is inevitable.

“Change is something most people don’t know how to take, especially when you do a big change like this,” he said. “I can live with the name change because I can see the reason why, I would say, a lot more because of my color as a Black man.”

While many may not be ready for the change, regardless of their reason, Buxton said it is for the better.

“That’s something I think we as a people have to get used to, change for the better,” he said. “In the long run. We shouldn’t have a Confederate general’s name on an Army post, especially one who owned slaves.”

Even though Mitchell initially opposed the change, he said that many on active duty, as well as veterans, will accept it.

“The decision was made, and I’m an old soldier,” he said. “Once the leaders make the decision, we adapt to the new decision.”

Ben Sessoms

Ben Sessoms is a Carolina Public Press staff writer based in Fayetteville. Send an email to bsessoms@carolinapublicpress.org to contact him.

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7 Comments

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  1. With the last name Bragg it gets a little personal. I always wondered why the United States would name a major military installation after the worst general of the confederacy and even credited by many historians with the eventual defeat of the confederate army. The United States Army won a decisive victory at Lookout Mountain and the charge up Missionary Ridge is considered an incredible victory. After the loss, Robert E. Lee offered his resignation and was refused. I have read Braxton Bragg did much to rebuild the south after he was pardoned. He may have been very good with logistics and possibly that is why the base was named after him. Who knows what the army brass of that era was thinking? I hope I haven’t offended anyone with this message.

  2. This is just ridiculous. As a special operations team member, the same Fort Bragg is our history. Why are we erasing it? I’m scared for my children. Our country is making changes where change isn’t necessary. Culture is where we need to put our energy. Whether you believe in God, or not, living by the 10 commandments is just rational. Be good. Be kind. Be gracious. Be authentic. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Don’t rape. Don’t kill. Again, just be good. 2¢

  3. I lived on and off Ft Bragg for most of my childhood, my grandfather, father, stepfather and myself have served at Ft. Bragg, a lot of military men and women have lost their lives in conflicts, while stationed there! Ft. Bragg has a lot of history behind it, and it’s going to cost us over 6 million dollars, to change it! All this because it was named after a Confederate general, this is ridiculous, leave it the way it is, and why is everyone trying to erase history?

  4. ITSABOUTTIMEDEPT

    I served at Fort Bragg! I took my Basic Training there! They had all sorts of historical exhibits about the place but the ‘Named after a racist Insurrectionist’ part never crossed my path over the eight weeks it took them to turn me into a mean green four-eyed fighting machine (albeit with marginal hearing).

    “The federal Naming Commission will present the new name for Fort Bragg to Congress for review in October.”

    Maybe they’ll name it Fort Bác Hồ, Post Osama, or Fort Harvey McLeod in keeping with that strange “Southern heritage tradition.”

    Wait!

    One up ’em – name it Fort Bonespurs!

  5. I’m considered by most a pretty liberal – OK, extremely liberal guy. But I also spent four years as a soldier at Fort Bragg. I never once heard anyone, black, white or purple, of any race or political leaning, even question where the name came from. Nobody gave a hoot. Let’s devote our moral attention today to correcting actual problems such as income inequity and gun violence – the racial gap in that regard is absolutely horrendous – rather than manufacturing divisive, irrelevant silliness. (An aside – Virginia Tech just renamed its Lee Hall, assuming it was named after Robert E. Lee. Nope. Turns out, it was named after an early 20th-century physics professor)

  6. I like Mr. Mitchell’s thoughtful comments. I would go a little further and say that the Fort, even with its new name, should display prominenty a plaque explicating the history, rather than erasing it. It should give Gen. Bragg’s history as a leader in the armed rebellion against the United States. It should state the history of the naming of the Fort in his honor, including reference to the Jim Crow Era. And it should give the account of its re-naming, and what Fort Liberty stands for presently.

  7. Not really comfortable with the name “Liberty” given some of its recent misuse. There are many Americans the fort could be named after, and we are missing a chance to honor these patriots.