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Confederate Avenue: Possible new name to be focus of hearing

ATLANTA (AP) — About nine months after a panel recommended the immediate renaming of Confederate Avenue in Atlanta, city officials are planning a public hearing.

A city council committee voted to hold the hearing and a “listening session” in September, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .

That’s likely to continue contentious debate over the Civil War-themed name along Confederate and East Confederate Avenues in southeast Atlanta and across the city.

Among possible replacement names: Considerate Avenue, United Avenue and Soldier Avenue.

Following last summer’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed, an Atlanta resident began a name-change petition drive for the Atlanta road.

Atlanta is among several cities — including New Orleans, Baltimore, Dallas and Richmond, Virginia — which have reviewed Confederate symbols in recent years.

In Atlanta, a city ordinance requires 75 percent of residents or property owners on a street to approve of a name change by signing their names. With those signatures now in place, Tuesday’s decision to move forward with public hearings means it’s possible that Confederate Avenue and possibly other names would be changed before the end of 2018, the Atlanta newspaper reported.

An 11-member advisory committee that recommended a name change for Confederate Avenue in its report last year also called for the immediate renaming of any street named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, John B. Gordon, Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dill Lee, or Howell Cobb. Those men “were significant Confederate military leaders and actively involved in white supremacist activities after the war, making them undeserving of the honor of a street name in Atlanta,” the committee said in its November 2017 report.

Forrest Street in Atlanta still exists. It was named after an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, the advisory committee said in its list of Atlanta street names associated with the Civil War-era Confederate States of America. Elsewhere in the South, Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park in west Tennessee; Forrest County, Mississippi; and Forrest City, Arkansas, are also named after him.

“We have an opportunity to address the monuments and street names in a holistic way,” Sheffield Hale, who co-chaired the Advisory Committee on City of Atlanta Street Names and Monuments Associated with the Confederacy, said Tuesday. “We did a lot of work and it still stands.”

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