- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has created a task force to weigh potentially renaming local roadways that currently honor Confederate Army Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Members of the “Confederate Names Task Force” established Tuesday will consider during the coming months if the Northern Virginia county should pursue changing the names of Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway.

Local stretches of U.S. 29 and U.S. 50, respectively, Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway cover a combined total of roughly 22 miles throughout Fairfax County, just west of Washington, D.C.

The task force will meet each month to discuss whether the highway names should change and will draft potential alternatives to present to the Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County said on its website.

If the Board wants to change the name of one or both roads, then it will make a formal request with the Commonwealth Transportation Board and agree to pay for changing the street signs, the county said.

“In Fairfax County, our diversity is our greatest strength and it’s important that we honor and celebrate that diversity,” Fairfax County Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay, a Democrat, said in a statement.

“We cannot ignore what the Lee and Lee Jackson Memorial Highway names represent in our community and especially to our African American neighbors,” added Mr. McKay, a member of the board since 2008. “The Confederate Names Task Force, which includes a diverse group, will examine and make recommendations on how both roadways can better reflect our values as we chart a positive path together for the future.”

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment.

The Confederate Names Task Force consists of 30 members, including residents, civic organizations and other local groups. Evelyn S. Spain, a member of the Fairfax County Planning Commission, is its chair.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has asked the task force to finish its work by the end of 2021.

More than 100 Confederate monuments and symbols have been removed from public display during 2020, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in February.

More recently, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, roughly 100 miles south of Fairfax County, removed its longstanding statues of both Lee and Jackson on Saturday. 

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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