Posted on September 24, 2018

Wincing Words from Some Atlantans on Push to Rename Confederate Avenue

Rosalind Bentley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 21, 2018

The waning moments of the battle to change the name of two southeast Atlanta streets from “Confederate” to “United” played out Thursday night in Atlanta City Council chambers, where about 30 people showed up for a “listening session.”


David Moreland, who described himself as “an eighth-generation American and a sixth-generation Georgian” whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War and for the Confederacy in the Civil War, said renaming Confederate Avenue and East Confederate Avenue would be an abomination. Though he now lives in Meriwether County, he said he grew up in Atlanta and went to Atlanta public schools, where he and his classmates sang the song “Dixie” at school events and believed having a Confederate forebear was an honor.

“When I was a young boy, you were proud to be an Atlantan, proud to be a Georgian, proud to be a Southerner, and you were darn proud to be a descendant of Confederate ancestors,” Moreland said. “Is there any wisdom in tearing down Confederate Avenue? Is there any justice? There’s a road named in this town after my family. We’re descendants of slaveholders. Does that mean me and my two brothers should go to a concentration camp? My people are not white supremacists and I am not a Nazi. Where does this end, folks?”


Last month, residents in the Grant Park and Ormewood Park neighborhoods, through which Confederate and East Confederate avenues run, voted to change the name of the streets to “United.” By city ordinance, 75 percent of property owners on a street must agree to any name change.

The overwhelming number of speakers on Thursday were supportive of “United.”

“I’m an American, and when I have to travel down Confederate Avenue, in my opinion it’s spitting in the face of the United States of America because it’s honoring a part of history where certain leaders of the Southern states committed an act of treason,” said Sonia Tetlow, who said she has lived just off East Confederate Avenue for 20 years. {snip}

But Will Dean, who said he has lived on Confederate Avenue for the past 14 years, agrees with the sentiment that replacing the name is tantamount to erasing history. And he’s also concerned about the cost of changing his personal legal documents to reflect a new name.

“If you’re like me and you run a personal business, it’s a big deal and it’s a big time-waster and it’s expensive,” Dean said.

There’s a different price to pay if the name stays the same, said Kristy Marynek, who lives on Confederate Avenue. It would send the wrong signal to current and future generations, she said.


A retirement home for Confederate veterans, a large brick building, was located on one end of the street and went out of operation in the early 1960s. That is how the streets got their name. The renaming effort grew after the killing of counterprotester Heather Heyer last year in Charlottesville, Va. {snip}


The measure is expected to go before the full council for a vote on Oct. 3.