A Town With a Provocative Name Says No to Change
When the mayor and members of the chamber of commerce of White Settlement, Texas decided that the very name of the city might be limiting its allure to outside investors, they decided to ask voters to approve a change to something a little less provocative like, say, Liberator Village or West Settlement, or, simply, Settlement.
The residents of White Settlement responded last Tuesday by defeating the measure by about a 9-to-1 margin among about 2,500 who voted.
The history of this area, often bloodied by skirmishes between whites and American Indians, did give the town its name, said Norris Chambers, founder of the White Settlement Historical Museum. Settlers from the South moved here a century and a half ago, aided by the establishment of a small fort on a nearby bluff, named for Maj. Gen. William Jenkins Worth.
"Because this area was inhabited by white settlers only, it was logical to call it White Settlement," said Mr. Chambers, 88, a retired technician at Otis Elevators. White Settlement was incorporated in 1941 when the establishment of a factory making B-24's, the Liberator bombers, fueled a growth spurt.
The town's population is now about 85 percent white, according to the most recent census figures. Nonwhites in White Settlement sometimes look at the discussion over the town's name with resignation.
"It's been this way for years, so why change it?" said Paris Ray, 37, an African-American entrepreneur who owns a store together with his wife, Maria Grieve, selling imported products from the Philippines.
"The first time I heard the name, when my wife told me there was a store for sale in White Settlement, I wondered," Mr. Ray said. "But the only problem it causes is with vendors who can't get past the white thing. I just put down that we're in Fort Worth and it works."
Still, others trying to attract new investment to White Settlement are more concerned
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