LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - More than 700 supporters signed an online petition to change the name of Jefferson Davis Parish in Louisiana.
A change.org petition started by Nick Guidry last week had nearly 400 signatures Thursday.
“You learn the history, you see the pain, you see the pictures from the history books, you see the documentaries,” Guidry said. “And you come to the realization, that these things aren’t just names. They have meaning. They were instated for a reason.”
Jeff Davis Parish was founded in 1912, named after Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
Jeff Davis Parish includes five municipalities: Elton, Fenton, Jennings, Welsh and Lake Arthur.
Guidry said his goal was to get 100 signatures when he started the petition, but now he’s reaching for 1,000.
“The goal was to get eyes on the issue and it just started picking up speed,” Guidry said.
Against the change, organizer Greg Pousson started a change.org petition on Wednesday to keep the name of Jefferson Davis Parish, which garnered more than 750 supporters on Thursday. On Monday, more than 2,500 supports signed the petition.
“I have no allegiance or love towards Jefferson Davis, the man, his beliefs, or his actions,” Pousson said. “That’s not what my petition is about. It’s about having two sides up for discussion. I don’t see all the so-called evidence of people here being offended by the name. It’s a part of history that hasn’t caused a divide since it started in 1913.”
Pousson said there’s no legitimacy in an online petition.
“If there is a way to go out and find out that there may be an issue like this then I’m all for it,” Pousson said. “I don’t think that these internet petitions are accurate enough to say ‘yeah, this is what I need to go by,’ and the only reason I did mine is because that’s all you can do to defend against the other.”
Guidry said if the name change were to happen, it would make a difference.
“It could be just a symbolic move, but it’s a symbolic move in the right direction,” Guidry said. “We can’t erase the prejudice that was a part of the Jim Crowe South and into of the 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s but we can extend an olive branch to those that do find this offensive and that’s all that I’m trying to do.”
KPLC reached out to the Jefferson Davis Police Jury but received no comment on this issue.