The Civil War is over. The bitter, year-long argument over what to do about the Confederacy’s legacy in Alexandria seems to have ended with a report from the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names. The report’s recommendations still await City Council approval.
Rather than removing the Appomattox Statue at the intersection between Washington Street and Prince Street, the report suggests adding historic resources around the site to explain more of the city’s complicated Civil War legacy. After discussion, the group also recommended that, as part of the city’s legislative package to the Virginia Assembly, it be requested that the ability to move the statue in the future be granted to the city. The group remained split over whether, at that point, the move would be appropriate or not.
On streets around the city named after Confederate figures, rather than launching a complete renaming program, the group advised that the city should establish a process by which concerned citizens could petition to have individual street names changed.
The City Council had already voted to cease flying the Confederate flag during special events and the group had little further to say about flag policy. The group asked city staff to clarify the city process for citizens requesting that certain flags be flown on city property, but noted that prior city legislation effectively banned the Confederate flag as one of those.
The only substantial removal of Confederate imagery from Alexandria proposed by the group is the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway. For most of the street’s run through the city, it is split into Patrick and Henry Streets, only called Jefferson Davis Highway to the north and south of Old Town where the streets reconverge. The group acknowledged that there would be costs associated with renaming this section of Route 1, but said the change remained more feasible and less controversial than renaming of other streets throughout the city.