Community hopes to rename trail after Rock Creek Park's first Black superintendent

What's in a name?

For the last year, a trail tucked away in Rock Creek Park has been called Reservation 630.

Before that, it was named after a man named Melvin Hazen — known now for being a driving force in segregating the District of Columbia and keeping people of color out of Northwest D.C.

"The individual the park had been named for was instrumental in removing an African-American community from what had been known as Reno city, which is now Fort Reno Park," explained Thaddeus Bradley-Lewis, ANC 3A01 commissioner.

Bordered by Tilden Street Northwest and Reno Road Northwest, the park is a green oasis in the neighborhood.

Last year, the National Park Service stripped Hazen's footprint from the park and trail.

Brown paint now covers the sign where his name once was.

But that's not enough.

Bradley-Lewis and his colleagues want it renamed - and this time, after someone worth honoring. 

"I think it's important because especially here in our Ward, we have a long history of racial inequity, systemic racial inequity," Bradley-Lewis said.

But between working with the National Park Service, District government, and Congress – the path to rename the trail is long and winding.

"A lot of these issues just get gummed up in the procedural churn that you have," he said.

That's where Mrs. Georgia Ellard comes into play.

Mrs. Georgia Ellard 

The 93-year-old spent her entire career working for the National Park Service – starting in 1955 as a clerk typist and ending as the first woman and first Black person to be superintendent of Rock Creek Park.

"My time when I worked at the park service, my primary interest was to do the best job that I could," Ellard said.

Now, this community wants to do right by her. They hope to rename Reservation 630 for Georgia Ellard after passing a resolution at their meeting on Tuesday night to do so.

After a lifetime of service, Ellard said she's thrilled to be honored in this way.

"I think it will be more important for my family to see it than me," she said. "My friends, I think they will be honored to know someone who they respect and someone they love has that kind of recognition."

Because so many agencies are involved, there's no telling if and when the park and trail could be renamed for Mrs. Ellard, but Bradley-Lewis said they will work with NPS, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the mayor, and the D.C. Council to get it done.