Fairfax County Begins Process of Finding New Names for Lee Highway, Other Sites That Honor Confederate Leaders
Antonio Olivo, Washington Post, December 11, 2020
Fairfax County has begun the process of getting rid of Confederate names on streets, parks and other sites, part of a broader reckoning over Virginia’s Civil War legacy amid calls for greater racial and social equity in the state.
On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors agreed to start public discussions around a renaming process featuring 157 locations that, in many cases, would require county residents and businesses to change their mailing addresses.
Among them are two of the county’s largest thoroughfares: Lee Highway, named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, and Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, named for Lee and Gen. Stonewall Jackson.
The dialogue over what to call those highways, and a host of parks and recreation centers that also honor Confederate leaders, can serve to bring greater awareness about Fairfax’s role in the Civil War and the role African Americans have played in the county, Supervisor Walter L. Alcorn (D-Hunter Mill) said during a Tuesday board committee meeting about the effort.
Dozens of Confederate monuments in Virginia have been taken down this year, an effort made possible by a new state law giving local jurisdictions authority over the fate of war monuments and memorials, and accelerated by the protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
This week, an advisory panel in Arlington also voted to rename the county’s portion of Lee Highway after Mildred and Richard Loving, the couple who successfully challenged Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.