8th District neigh­bor­hood group: Re­name Jef­fer­son Davis High­way

Res­i­dents pe­ti­tion Tram­mell to back a coun­cil pro­posal

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NEWS - BY JUSTIN MAT­TINGLY Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch jmat­tingly@timesdis­patch.com (804) 649-6012 Twit­ter: @jmat­tingly306

Jef­fer­son Davis High­way in Rich­mond could be the next Con­fed­er­ate iconog­ra­phy re­moved as a re­sult of mass demon­stra­tions that have roiled the city over the past two weeks.

In a let­ter dated Satur­day, the Jef­fer­son Davis Neigh­bor­hood Civic As­so­ci­a­tion asked 8th District City Coun­cil­woman Reva Tram­mell to in­tro­duce a pro­posal to the Rich­mond City Coun­cil that would re­name the city’s part of the high­way.

The neigh­bor­hood as­so­ci­a­tion wants “a name that’s more suit­able to the cul­ture we cur­rently live in,” reads the let­ter signed by Charles Wil­lis, the as­so­ci­a­tion’s pres­i­dent.

“The time is now to move for­ward,” reads the let­ter, adding that the neigh­bor­hood as­so­ci­a­tion has been try­ing to change the name for more than seven years.

Tram­mell did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a re­quest for com­ment Sun­day.

Large-scale protests in Rich­mond over the past 11 days led city lead­ers, in­clud­ing Tram­mell, to com­mit to tak­ing down all the Con­fed­er­ate stat­ues along Mon­u­ment Av­enue.

That in­cludes a statue of Davis, the Con­fed­er­acy’s pres­i­dent who was raised in Mis­sis­sippi. Gov. Ralph Northam an­nounced last week that the Robert E. Lee statue, the lone mon­u­ment on the strip un­der state con­trol, will also be re­moved.

Amy Wentz, who is run­ning against Tram­mell in the 2020 coun­cil elec­tion, said Sun­day that she sup­ports re­nam­ing the city’s por­tion of the high­way, most of which is in the

8th District. A sliver of the high­way is in the 6th District and runs into Ch­ester­field County.

Wentz said the road has been “ne­glected and de­prived of eco­nomic sup­ports for our res­i­dents for decades.”

“It’s time for change,” she said. “In or­der to at­tract the in­ten­tional growth and com­pa­nies needed, let’s start with a new name that does not up­hold a sys­tem of white supremacy and racism.”

Rich­mond would not be the first lo­cal­ity to re­name its part of the high­way, which the United Daugh­ters of the Con­fed­er­acy con­ceived in 1913, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion. The Alexan­dria City Coun­cil in 2018 re­named its part of the road from Jef­fer­son Davis High­way to Rich­mond High­way.

A 2019 re­port from the South­ern Poverty

Law Cen­ter found that 71 high­ways and roads are named for the Con­fed­er­ate leader. He’s the sec­ond-most hon­ored mem­ber of the Con­fed­er­acy, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, trail­ing only Lee and his 223 mon­u­ments, roads and schools.

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