A renowned Black historic site in Chatham-Kent is making changes to better honour its history.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Dresden is planning to announce its new site name during Emancipation Day celebrations on July 30.

The new name is set to come following the recently approved road name change from Uncle Tom’s Road to Freedom Road.

Chatham-Kent council approved step one of the project on Monday by an 11-7 vote and learned that the Ontario Heritage Trust also plans to change the site name for the next stage.

The new name pays homage to the story of Josiah Henson, a conductor of the Underground Railroad who helped settle the Dawn settlement that the historic site rests on.

The Henson family are in full support of the road and upcoming site name change.

The Ontario Heritage Trust notes that the term ‘Uncle Tom’ embodies many of the prejudices and biases at the root of anti-Black racism, and that the term implies a person of African descent is a traitor to their race.

Curator of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site┬áSteven Cook is happy with the change and hopes it will help to better honour the legacy of Josiah Henson.

“The man ‘Uncle Tom’ that came to be known as Josiah Henson was such a remarkable leader in the black community and we really need to better honour his legacy,” says Cook.

The site consists of the Josiah Henson Interpretive Centre, with its Underground Railroad Freedom Gallery and North Star Theatre, plus three historical buildings including the Josiah Henson house, two cemeteries, a sawmill, and numerous artifacts that have been preserved as a legacy to these early pioneers.