Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names

Page updated on Aug 17, 2017 at 1:12 PM

Final Report and City Council Action

The Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names, which was established by Alexandria City Council in September 2015, submitted its final report to City Council on August 18, 2016.  The Advisory Group issued recommendations on the four topics City Council directed it to consider, and concluded as follows:

  1. The Appomattox statute on South Washington Street should remain in place, with additional efforts made to add context to its story;
  2. The name of Jefferson Davis Highway in the City of Alexandria should be changed;
  3. Rather than a wholesale renaming of streets in the City named after Confederate figures, individual requests for new names should be considered by City Council if brought under existing processes; and
  4. No further action is needed with regard to a specific policy on flying of any flags on property owned or under the control of the City.

The Advisory Group received more than 150 comments through its online feedback form and heard more than 60 speakers at its five public meetings.

City Council received the Advisory Group's report at its meeting on September 13, 2016, and considered the report as part of its public hearing meeting on September 17, 2016.  After receiving public comment, City Council voted unanimously to direct the City Manager to begin the process of renaming Jefferson Davis Highway in Alexandria, by creating a robust community engagement process, which may include Arlington County.  (Details about the process are available at www.alexandriava.gov/JeffersonDavisHighway.) City Council decided not to take action on any other street names, agreeing with the Advisory Group that individual requests for new names should be considered if brought by residents under existing processes.

City Council also directed staff to initiate a discussion with the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which owns Appomattox, regarding the possibility of moving the statue from the middle of the street to the edge, on the lawn of The Lyceum.  UDC declined to participate in an attempt to change the law.  City Council included a request to change the law in its formal legislative agenda for the 2017 General Assembly session, but the General Assembly declined to change the law.  Since the General Assembly does not meet again until January 2018, there is currently no pending City action regarding Appomattox.

Click here to view the City Council meeting discussion and docket information, and use the “Jump To” menu to go to Docket Item #13.


Background

On September 29, 2015, City Council unanimously passed a resolution to establish an Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names.  The resolution directed the City Manager to appoint the seven members of the Advisory Group, with two members appointed at-large and one member appointed from each of the Alexandria Human Rights Commission, the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission, the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, the Alexandria Planning Commission, and the Alexandria Transportation Commission.


Functions

The functions of the Advisory Group were to:

  1. Attend scheduled Advisory Group meetings, which shall be open to the public
  2. Bring community values, knowledge, and ideas into its discussions and considerations
  3. Develop recommendations on actions, if any, that it believes City Council should consider with respect to:
    • the status of the Appomattox statue on South Washington Street
    • the name of Jefferson Davis Highway in the City of Alexandria
    • the names of the many streets within the City that are named after Confederate generals and military leaders
    • a specific policy on flying of any flags on property owned or under the control of the City*
  4. Hold one or more public hearings to solicit comments from the public on the issues relating to Confederate memorials

* On September 8, 2015, City Council voted unanimously to prohibit the flying of the Confederate flag on City property on Robert E. Lee's Birthday and on Confederate Memorial Day.


Meetings

Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
City Hall (301 King St.), Sister Cities Conference Room 1101


Monday, February 8, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
City Hall (301 King St.), Sister Cities Conference Room 1101


Monday, March 28, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Downtown Baptist Church, 212 S. Washington St. (across the street from The Lyceum)


Monday, April 11, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
City Hall (301 King St.), Sister Cities Conference Room 1101

Monday, June 13, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
City Hall (301 King St.), Sister Cities Conference Room 1101


Members

After soliciting applicants for the two at-large positions, and recommendations by commission chairs for commission representatives, the City Manager appointed the following members to the Advisory Group:

  • Mary Lyman, Chair (representing the Planning Commission)
  • Ruth Brannigan (at-large)
  • Molly Fannon (at-large)
  • Elizabeth McCall (representing the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission)
  • James Lewis (representing the Transportation Commission)
  • LaDonna Sanders (representing the Human Rights Commission)
  • Eugene Thompson (representing the Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage)

Contact Information

For additional information, please contact Craig Fifer, Director of Communications and Public Information, at craig.fifer@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.3965.

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