By Joe Johnson
Auriel Briana “Thumpa” Callaway was with her 3-year-old son outside their home on Carriage Court in the Clarke Gardens apartment complex the night of July 22 when gunshots rang out from a fight nearby and the 24-year-old single mother was killed as she tried to rush her 3-year-old son to safety.
Callaway was four months pregnant with a child who also died, police said.
At the time, Callaway was the most recent Athenian to die as a result of gun violence.
The death of the well-liked young woman galvanized members of Athens’ Black community into taking action in an attempt to reduce gun violence in their communities through such initiatives as youth mentoring, conflict resolution and a gun buy-back program.
And to honor Callaway’s legacy, residents installed a handmade sign to rename Carriage Court to “Thumpa Ave,” but it was recently taken down by the county.
As a result, a Change.org petition drive was started in an attempt to convince the county to officially rename the street.
“With the backing of her family, we are asking the Athens community to sign this petition in support of renaming 'Carriage Court' to 'Thumpa Ave.' in honor of Auriel 'Thumpa" Callaway,'" the petition states.
Auriel “Thumpa” Callaway with her son, Mason
“Auriel was a mother, daughter, sister, and friend to many in the community and her impact on the lives of those she touched will forever be felt,” the petition states. “As Auriel covered and protected her three-year-old son during her last moments of life, it is now on us as an Athens community to protect her memory and ensure that her name lives on. Please sign and share!”
Mayor Kelly Girtz said he would support changing the name of the street, but the county’s place-naming process, which had not been reviewed “in quite some time is currently under examination by the Government Operations Committee of the County Commission.
“After they complete their work, there will be an updated application process for street, park, etc. naming," he said.
Athens-Clarke District 2 Commissioner Mariah Parker said she will make a formal request to change the street’s name at the commission’s voting session next week.
To sign the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/commisioner-mariah-parker-thumpa-ave-street-renaming-in-honor-of-auriel-thumpa-callaway?recruiter=1164413618&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=petition_dashboard&recruited_by_id=e56defe0-26dc-11eb-9555-810a2e07bba3&utm_content=fht-25842769-en-us%3A2&use_react=false