8th District neighborhood group: Rename Jefferson Davis Highway
Residents petition Trammell to back a council proposal
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.