Fairfax Co. task force to suggest new names for Lee Highway, Lee Jackson Memorial Highway

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors formed a task force to suggest new names for U.S. Route 29/Lee Highway and U.S. Route 50/Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, as many Virginia communities scrutinize schools, monuments and other places recognizing Confederate figures.

The 30-member Confederate Names Task Force is expected to meet monthly starting this August, and will host voices from residents, homeowner associations, local businesses, faith leaders and historic groups.

The names it settles on will be passed to the board for a final decision “after extensive public engagement,” according to a news release outlining the process. The task force’s meetings will be open to the public.

“We cannot ignore what the Lee and Lee Jackson Memorial Highway names represent in our community and especially to our African American neighbors,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay said.

“The Confederate Names Task Force, which includes a diverse group, will examine and make recommendations on how both roadways can better reflect our values as we chart a positive path together for the future.”

Sully District planning commissioner Evelyn S. Spain, who also serves as a member of the Fairfax NAACP’s executive committee, will lead the new task force.

Neighboring Arlington County furthered plans last month to rename its own stretch of Route 29 in honor of abolitionist John Langston, Virginia’s first Black member of Congress. Fairfax County said it would coordinate with other jurisdictions considering name changes to the same highways.

In Dec. 2020, the Fairfax County History Commission published an inventory of 157 monuments, streets and other places with Confederate-related names at the request of the board. Lee Highway and the Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway were the largest thoroughfares listed.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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