Charlottesville City Council Votes to Rename Parks

Jun 6, 2017

Charlottesville City Council on Monday night voted unanimously to change the names of two parks named for confederate generals. WMRA’s Jordy Yager has more. 

For more than 90 years, Charlottesville’s most prominent downtown park has contained a statue and born the name of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. And though the statue remains, City Council moved to now call the park, Emancipation Park. Two blocks to the east, next to the Albemarle County Circuit Court House, what was known as Jackson Park for Stonewall Jackson, will now be known as Justice Park.

The two statues and parks were called into question last year by some in the city who saw them as extensions of white supremacy and part of the physical legacy that slavery and the racist policies of Jim Crow laws had left behind. 

For six months, a commission studied the issue. And earlier this year councilors voted to rename the parks and remove the Lee statue. A lawsuit has temporarily prevented the statue’s removal. On Monday, Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy said that while having the Lee statue in a park now named Emancipation Park may seem odd to some people, it symbolizes the direction the city must move towards.

WES BELLAMY: Now this isn’t the only step, because we still have a long way to go. And as I alluded to, justice and equity isn’t something that we currently see right now. But I know that we’re all going to work to get there. And this hope of us all finally being emancipated, this hope of us receiving justice are two things that we can name these parks to get us to where we need to be. It’s the power in wishful thinking, it’s the power of us being able to use our collective energy to move forward to change the narrative.

For WMRA News, I’m Jordy Yager