Confederate-Named Street Renaming Process Outlined For 41 Streets

ALEXANDRIA, VA — With the first changeovers being considered in 2023 for streets with Confederate references, the Alexandria City Council learned on Tuesday how the renaming process will work.

City staff presented the scope of the renaming process, which involves renaming three streets per year. There are 41 streets the city has confirmed are named for Confederate soldiers.

Much of the work will be done by City Council’s three-member naming committee — Councilmembers John Taylor Chapman, Sarah Bagley and Alyia Gaskins — before full City Council consideration.

Find out what's happening in Old Town Alexandriawith free, real-time updates from Patch.

The inventory of 41 Confederate street names includes major roads like Beauregard Street, Janney’s Lane and Van Dorn Street, as well as neighborhood streets like Lee Street, Armistead Street, Calhoun Avenue and Davis Avenue. The city is researching other names like Stevenson Avenue, Reynolds Street and Hume Avenue to determine if they are associated with Confederate figures.

Dana Wedeles, the city’s strategic initiatives officer, told City Council 20 of the 41 Confederate-named streets were named in a 1953 city ordinance. The ordinance said that streets generally running in the north-south directions should be named for Confederate military leaders. That happened after the city annexed a diverse part of the West End in 1952 and before schools were desegregated with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Find out what's happening in Old Town Alexandriawith free, real-time updates from Patch.

“I would encourage anybody, our residents and my colleagues, to really read that 1953 ordinance,” said Bagley, one of three members of City Council’s naming committee. “It will impact, I suspect, your point of view about this process. It’s not mincing words. It was very deliberate. Its timing was very deliberate, and it changed existing names.”

Councilmember Kirk McPike noted the 1953 ordinance renamed 57 streets. That includes 20 the city identified as having Confederate names.

“I have a hard time believing they went through the same amount of process that we’re going through now to try to undo what was done with some malicious intent,” McPike said.

The Renaming Process

The process will apply to the first three renamings to be considered in 2023. In September, the naming committee will discuss which three names it will prioritize for renaming first, and the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission will present recommended new names. The Historic Alexandria Resources Commission is being asked to research locations and people, especially, minority groups and women, worth recognizing with street names.

After the committee chooses the three streets for renaming and three new names, the city will open a public feedback form. Residents will be able to suggest names while providing a reason for a proposed name and proof of a community-led meeting on a proposed name.

In October, the naming committee will hold a public hearing on the renamings and encourage impacted property owners and those who suggested names to attend. The committee will then make a recommendation to the full City Council.

In November, City Council will receive the proposal, schedule a public hearing, and make a decision after the public hearing. If the proposal is approved, city staff would begin address, system, and signage changes in December.

Chapman, another renaming committee member, said the process isn’t meant to be short and should allow residents to share their thoughts.

“If we’re tackling three of these 41 names each year, understanding that as we start this year’s process, we’re kind of setting the table for what we do year after year and understanding that this is going to be the kind of first learning experience not just for the council and the committee but also for the community,” said Chapman.

Chapman noted the former names of streets before they were renamed with Confederate references could be considered.

“I did note when we laid this out that there were some good original names,” said Mayor Justin Wilson, who first proposed a new process for renaming streets in January.

Several councilmembers noted one major concern from the community is address changes to receive U.S. Postal Service mail. According to Wedeles, the city would be responsible for changing addresses and records with the U.S. Postal Service, personal property tax, land records and permits, utilities, voter registration, schools and emergency services.

Resident and business property owners would need to notify the IRS, Social Security, financial services, insurance, and subscription services of address name changes. DMV address changes for registrations and driver’s licenses can be done during renewals, Wedeles said. Passports can be updated when they are renewed. Wills and trusts will not require an address change, although residents can ask the city to provide a certified letter to add to a will or trust.

Information on what residents would be responsible for in a street renaming is provided on the Confederate street renaming web page.

Wedeles noted the community-led meeting requirement for suggesting new names seeks to filter out name suggestions that aren’t serious. For example, during the Jefferson Davis Highway renaming to Richmond Highway process, names like “Boaty McBoatface” were suggested. Wedeles said community-led efforts to suggest names can small, like a three-person meeting.

Wilson noted Tuesday’s discussion wasn’t an action on renaming streets by City Council. Residents can follow Confederate Street Renaming updates on the city’s web page.

Get more local news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for free Patch newsletters and alerts.

Click Here: baby knitted accessories

Leave a Reply