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McCullough Calls For Renaming Jefferson Davis Highway After Charlottesville Violence

After the events in Charlottesville last weekend, independent Arlington County Board candidate Charles McCullough II called for a renewed push to rename Jefferson Davis Highway.

McCullough said in a letter to the County Board and Arlington’s representatives in the Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday, August 15 that they must work to rename Jefferson Davis Highway, the name for U.S. Route 1 in the county from its border with Alexandria into Rosslyn. Such a change would require action by the General Assembly.

In doing so, he said, it would condemn racism and bigotry and distance Arlington from the Confederate president.

“Even one more day of Route 1 as Jefferson Davis Highway is 24 hours too long,” he wrote.

The question of whether to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway has swirled for several years, but local leaders have said passing a bill in Richmond to change the name is unlikely.

In Alexandria, a group is soliciting name suggestions for its stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway just south of Arlington. A letter from the Virginia Attorney General’s office last year said Alexandria does not need state approval to change the name as it is part of the Urban Highway System, so state bodies do not have naming rights.

McCullough’s full letter is after the jump.

Dear Members of the Arlington County Board and State Delegation:

While we Virginians take time to heal from the events in Charlottesville this weekend, we must also reflect and consider those actions that will turn our good words condemning racism and bigotry into good deeds.

As such, I am calling on the Arlington County Board to finish what it began in 2011 by working with the General Assembly and the communities along Route 1 to rename the Arlington portion of Jefferson Davis Highway in a way that is respectful to all who live and work along it.

This effort should include submitting a name-change request in the Arlington County legislative package, identifying a member of the Arlington delegation to be patron of the bill, and creating an Arlington-based advisory group to solicit and recommend name-change options, including those selected by the Alexandria City Council at the conclusion of its renaming process.

It was easy for the vast majority of Americans to quickly identify and condemn the violent Neo-Nazi and KKK perpetrators of violence this weekend because those expressions of hate burn brightly. There are other expressions of prejudice, small embers, which often go unnoticed but burn just as severely. This is the case with Jefferson Davis Highway, the name attached to Route 1.

For several years the hardworking people of Arlington have expressed good cause for our desire to change this name. On many occasions you all have made some attempt to do so. Now is the time for you, as local and state officials, to summon the political will, stand strong in Richmond, and get it done once and for all.

Even one more day of Route 1 as Jefferson Davis Highway is 24 hours too long.

Respectfully,

Charles McCullough

Candidate, Arlington County Board

Photo of Jefferson Davis Highway in Crystal City via Google Maps

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