Fort Bragg, a military installation of the United States Army in North Carolina, has been renamed as Fort Liberty.
The name change was implemented in a ceremony that several veterans described as a simple but crucial step toward making the U.S. Army more hospitable to existing and potential Black service members.
The modification was made as part of a larger Department of Defense effort to rename military installations that had been named after Confederate warriors as a result of the 2020 George Floyd protests.
The Black Lives Matter protests that erupted around the country following Floyd’s murder by a white police officer, together with ongoing campaigns to take down Confederate monuments, brought attention to the Army facilities.
The bases were visited and people of the local communities were invited to meetings by a naming commission established by Congress.
Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule noted at a commission meeting last year that the new name was chosen because “liberty remains the greatest American value.”
Referring to the city adjacent to the base, Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, the Commanding General of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Liberty, said, “Fayetteville in 1775 signed one of the first accords declaring our willingness to fight for liberty and freedom from Great Britain.”
He added, “Liberty has always been ingrained in this area.”
“Liberty is in the fabric and identity of all of our units. In the 82nd song, ‘The All-American Soldier,’ we are all American and proud to be, for we’re the soldiers of liberty. You’ll find it in the Special Forces motto, Dea Presa Liber, and you’ll find liberty etched in the hearts of everyone who’s proudly given their lives for this installation.”Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue
Donahue was the main speaker at the event which marked the official name change of Fort Bragg on Friday, June 2, 2023. He opened the ceremony saying, “Welcome to Fort Liberty, the center of the universe.”
Fort Bragg was originally named in 1918 after Gen. Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general from Warrenton, North Carolina, who was known for owning slaves and losing key Civil War battles that contributed to the Confederacy’s downfall.
According to a commission report, the cost to rename Fort Bragg which is one of the largest military installations in the world by population, will total about $6.37 million.
Col. John Wilcox gave an updated figure on Friday, saying that the cost of the name change was about $8 million right now. Most front-facing signage has been changed.
The military installation in North Carolina is the only one that has not been renamed after a person, although other bases are being renamed for Black warriors, U.S Presidents, and trailblazing women.
No Change In Mission
On Friday, June 2, 2023, before the ceremony, Base Spokesperson Cheryle Rivas, stated, “The name changes, the mission does not change.”
Fort Polk in Louisiana is slated to be the next installation to change its name on June 13, 2023, to Fort Johnson, in honor of Sgt. William Henry Johnson.
Isiah James, Senior Policy Officer at the Black Veterans Project, opined that the base renamings are a “long overdue” change that he hopes will lead to more substantial improvements for Black service members.
“America should not have vestiges of slavery and secessionism and celebrate them,” he said.
“We should not laud them and hold them up and venerate them to where every time a Black soldier goes onto the base, they get the message that this base Bragg is named after someone who wanted to keep you as human property.”Isiah James
The Secretary of Defense is required by law to implement the naming commission’s proposed changes by Jan. 1, 2024.