Future of Fairfax Co. roads named after Confederate leaders still up in air

Whether several highways in Fairfax County, Virginia, that were named for Confederate leaders will be changed is still up in the air.

The Confederate Names Task Force was formed in July, and could recommend, by the end of the year, whether to change the names of Lee Highway/U.S. Route 29 and Lee Jackson Memorial Highway/U.S. Route 50.

Brent Tarter, a former senior editor at the Library of Virginia, spoke to the task force Monday night. He talked about how Virginia’s past may have led to giving the roadways what are now very controversial names.

He noted how things have changed in the state.

“Virginia right now is a more diverse state than it’s ever been in its history, and of all the diverse neighborhoods in Virginia, none is more diverse than Fairfax County.” Tarter said

Task force member Bunyan Bryant pointed out that the decisions the task force makes will help create the narrative about the county in the future.

“We want to have a narrative that’s inclusive,” Bryant said.

Task force member Barbara Glakas agreed with some other members that changing a road name will not erase Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from history, but much needs to be considered around raising up such controversial figures with plaques, statues and roads named after them.

“There’s a difference between studying, learning and knowing a character, but glorifying and revering them is a different thing,” Glakas said.

However, when asked to sum up the name-changing process using one word, the members’ responses ranged from disjointed to optimistic.

There may be public hearings in the name change in early 2022.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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