In a small but important step for Black service members, Fort Bragg has been officially renamed as Fort Liberty — removing its association with a Confederate general.
The base in North Carolina had been named for Confederate General Braxton Bragg, a slave-owner and figure associated with the loss of key battles in the Civil War. The decision to rename the fort was first announced in March, while the official ceremony taking place Friday.
“The name changes, the mission does not change,” base spokesperson Cheryle Rivas said before the ceremony.
The name "Fort Liberty" honors “the heroism, sacrifices, and values of the Soldiers, Service Members, Civilians, and Families who live and serve with this installation,” the fort's officials wrote in a news release. “We view this as the next chapter in our history and look forward to honoring the stories of our military heroes from every generation and walk of life."
Lieutenant General Christopher Donahue, the commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Liberty, said that “liberty has always been ingrained in this area," noting that “Fayetteville in 1775 signed one of the first accords declaring our willingness to fight for liberty and freedom from Great Britain."
“We were given a mission, we accomplished that mission and we made ourselves better," he said.
Following the 2020 protests over the death of George Floyd, which sparked national conversations on racism, a US Department of Defense initiative sought to rename military installations that were named after Confederate figures. Fort Liberty is the latest to undergo this process, but is significant for its position as one of the largest military installations in the world by population.
Isiah James, senior policy officer at the Black Veterans Project, said that the renamings are “long overdue."
“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.”