ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Attempts to remove high-profile Confederate references in Alexandria, Virginia, are seeing mixed results: a Confederate soldier statue will stay, a highway name will change.
The city is moving forward with a plan to strip the name of the president of the Confederacy from U.S. 1, Jefferson Davis Highway.
“We are working on a process to solicit suggestions from the community and make a recommendation to City Council on a new name,” said City of Alexandria Spokesman Craig T. Fifer in an email. “We expect to have an announcement by the end of the month.”
But council efforts to have a confederate soldier statue moved from the intersection of Prince and Washington streets have failed. The council on Tuesday was informed by local members of Virginia’s General Assembly that they would not request a waiver to rules that prohibit war memorials from being moved.
The Confederate memorial statue “Appomattox” honors the men of Alexandria who died in the Civil War.
Both the statue and the Jefferson Davis Highway designation represent pride in Confederate history and heritage for some. But they’re repugnant to some others.
“It represents slavery,” said John Simms as he walked by the statue with his 3-year-old great niece. “And I know there’s a lot of Caucasians that don’t want it there either.”
An Alexandria resident who works within sight of the statue is disturbed she has to see what she calls a “negative symbol” every day.
“Negative stuff from the past that we should be moving forward from,” said Colida, who declined to provide her last name to WTOP.
A member of Alexandria City Council who is disappointed the statue will not be moved said he’s happy to be part of the successful effort to change the highway name.
“To me, as an African American living in the city of Alexandria, [the name is] supporting someone who wanted to keep African Americans enslaved, confined, caged — probably treated worse than they treated their animals,” said City of Alexandria Councilman Willie F. Bailey, Sr.
“I’m happy, elated, that — that name will be removed. Just like I’ve told everyone, this isn’t for me. It’s for my parents, my grandparents, my ancestors.”
© 2016 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.