Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson says that he wants to reignite the conversation over renaming streets named after Confederate heroes of the Civil War.
There are dozens of Alexandria streets named after Confederate soldiers, and Wilson says that it will take a multi-year process to rename the streets.
“Yes, multi-year, to ensure it doesn’t become disruptive to navigation, our residents and businesses,” Wilson said. “I’ll have a specific proposal out soon. Basically a schedule and a process for how we can approach this.”
Forrest Street, for instance, is named after Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Lee Street is named after the family of Confederate commanding Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The proposal will include a public engagement process and renaming suggestions.
Local group Reconstruction Alexandria has struggled to raise community support with petitions for more than a year, in order to get the issue to City Council for review. Efforts to gather signatures for petitions for Lee Street, Janneys Lane and Floyd Street petered out.
“It’s been frustrating,” said volunteer Alex Sprague. “We thought we had the signatures needed for Janneys and Floyd, but turns out some signatures weren’t the actual property owners.”
After getting the go-ahead from then-Governor Ralph Northam in 2020, Alexandria removed the Appomattox statue from the middle of S. Washington Street in Old Town. The statue of a Confederate soldier facing south with crossed arms and his head bowed stood for 131 years before being hauled away by the Daughters of the Confederacy.
Like removing statues, changing street names takes time.
It took four years to rename Jefferson Davis Highway (the president of the Confederacy) to Richmond Highway, starting with the 2015 formation of the city’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names.
The Confederate street names date back to 1951, when city officials determined that all streets facing north to south would be named after Confederate members of the military, according to the Washington Post.
Alexandria streets named after Confederate soldiers:
- Ashby Street — Named after Turner Ashby, Jr., cavalry commander for “Stonewall” Jackson
- Beauregard Street — Named after Confederate Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard, creator of the Confederate States of America (CSA) battle flag
- Bragg Street — Named after CSA Gen. Braxton Bragg
- Breckinridge Place — Named after former U.S. Vice President John Cabell Breckinridge, who later serves as a brigadier general in the CSA
- Calhoun Avenue — Named after CSA Maj. J. Lawrence Calhoun
- Chambliss Street — Named after CSA Gen. John Chambliss
- Dearing Street — Named after James Dearing, the last CSA general to die in battle
- Donelson Street — Named after CSA Brig. Gen. Daniel Smith Donelson
- Early Street — Named after CSA Gen. Jubal Early
- Floyd Street — Named after CSA Brig. Gen. John Buchanan Floyd
- Forrest Street — Named after CSA Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan
- French Street — Named after CSA Brig. Gen. Samuel Gibbs French
- Frost Street — Named after CSA Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Frost
- Gordon Street –– Named after CSA Gen. John Brown Gordon
- Hardee Place — Named after CSA Gen. William Joseph Hardee
- Hume Avenue — Named after Frank Hume, a former CSA spy who settled in Alexandria
- Imboden Street — Named after CSA Gen. John D. Imboden
- Iverson Street — Named after CSA Gen. Alfred Iverson
- Jackson Place — Named after CSA defender James W. Jackson, who killed Union Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth at the Marshall House on May 24, 1861
- Janneys Lane — Named after CSA Maj. Eli Hamilton Janney
- Jordan Street — Named after CSA Brig. Gen. Thomas Jordon
- Kemper Street — Named after CSA soldier James Lawson Kemper
- Lee Street — Named for the Lee family, after the death of Mrs. Robert E. Lee in 1874
- Longstreet Lane — Named for CSA Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
- Maury Lane — Named after CSA Naval Chief Matthew Fontaine Maury, who also had an elementary school named after him in Alexandria
- Pegram Street — Named after CSA Brig Gen. John Pegram
- Reynolds Street — Named after Alexander Welch Reynolds or Daniel H. Reynolds, both CSA brigadier generals
- Quantrell Avenue — Named after CASA Brig. Gen. William Clark Quantrill
- Rosser Street — Named after CSA Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Rosser
- Van Dorn Street — Named after CSA Brig. Gen. Earl Van Dorn
- Wheeler Avenue — Named after CSA Gen. Joseph Wheeler
There are also a number of streets that are possibly named after Confederate soldiers. Those are listed below the jump:
At the request of the City of Alexandria, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and state of emergency are in effect in Alexandria and neighboring Arlington.
I am also issuing a State of Emergency in Virginia, so we can continue to respond.
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) January 6, 2021
The announcement comes amid chaos in D.C. as rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol building this afternoon. Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks was on a conference call with other regional leaders for a meeting in Arlington to determine public safety procedures.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott