The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to rename a Virginia highway Saturday, following months of debate on how to deal with Confederate symbols.
The city council voted to rename Jefferson Davis Highway in a public hearing, reports WJLA. The council invited residents to attend and voice their opinions on the subject.
The council discussed these changes in a room with a picture of Robert E. Lee on one wall, and a painting of the Union occupation of Alexandria behind the council.
Some people urged the council to rename the highway, claiming the name is harmful.
“I’m offended that we have toxicity right here right now in the year 2016 with these ridiculous offensive names,” said Greg Thrasher, a person who attended the meeting.
Others argued that it seemed like renaming the highway was tantamount to Alexandria hiding its past involvement with slavery.
“People come here and they learn about the events and the persons they never knew. Our street names and buildings spark conversations and thoughts by residents and tourists. Alexandria, this wonderful city, seems to be now working to hide history,” Gale Nemec, a 20-year resident of the city, said.
Ellen Tabb, who also attended the meeting, said the task force that suggested renaming the highway did not understand Southern history.
Mayor Allison Silenberg suggested the highway be renamed the Patrick Henry Street. But ultimately decided to start a process to come up with new names for the highway.
The council also decided to start talking with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group of female descendants of Confederate soldiers, to see if the Appomattox statue, a figure of an unarmed Confederate solider, can be moved.
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