Connecting Fairfax City's Past and Present to Build a More Equitable and Inclusive Future

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Connecting Fairfax City for All

The City of Fairfax recognizes there is strength in diversity and acknowledges the need for a broader community conversation around the issues of racial and social equity, systemic racism, symbolism, and identity.

Confederate Lane and Plantation Pkwy signsNomenclature in the City of Fairfax
Evolving views about who and what should be memorialized in public spaces and on public land present an opportunity for the City of Fairfax to examine its nomenclature. Confederate-related street and place names, historical markers and monuments, and elements in the city seal will be discussed in the context of how these symbols reflect the City Council’s goals of inclusivity and building community.

City residents are invited to participate in thought-provoking conversations that connect current realities with the city’s historical past. Ultimately, through a series of listening and learning opportunities, the goal is to connect the present to a more equitable and inclusive future for all city residents, businesses, and visitors.

“This initiative, endorsed by the City Council, holds great promise for our city residents to engage with each other with respect, compassion, and an openness to learning and gaining a greater understanding of each other,” said City of Fairfax Mayor David Meyer. “This is an opportunity for all of us to discern what actions we may take to create a preferred future that is inclusive and more just and equitable.”

Partnership with George Mason University
To accomplish this work, the city has partnered with the George Mason University Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. Working with the Carter School, the city has outlined a process to listen to community voices, engage the community in learning sessions and structured, facilitated discussions, and will form a diverse working group to make recommendations on action items and identify areas for further community discussion. City Council will consider the recommendations in 2021 before making decisions regarding the city’s nomenclature.

Please explore this project site, drop a pin on the map, share your ideas, tell your story, or leave a comment. Click on the social media icons to share with others.

Connecting Fairfax City for All

The City of Fairfax recognizes there is strength in diversity and acknowledges the need for a broader community conversation around the issues of racial and social equity, systemic racism, symbolism, and identity.

Confederate Lane and Plantation Pkwy signsNomenclature in the City of Fairfax
Evolving views about who and what should be memorialized in public spaces and on public land present an opportunity for the City of Fairfax to examine its nomenclature. Confederate-related street and place names, historical markers and monuments, and elements in the city seal will be discussed in the context of how these symbols reflect the City Council’s goals of inclusivity and building community.

City residents are invited to participate in thought-provoking conversations that connect current realities with the city’s historical past. Ultimately, through a series of listening and learning opportunities, the goal is to connect the present to a more equitable and inclusive future for all city residents, businesses, and visitors.

“This initiative, endorsed by the City Council, holds great promise for our city residents to engage with each other with respect, compassion, and an openness to learning and gaining a greater understanding of each other,” said City of Fairfax Mayor David Meyer. “This is an opportunity for all of us to discern what actions we may take to create a preferred future that is inclusive and more just and equitable.”

Partnership with George Mason University
To accomplish this work, the city has partnered with the George Mason University Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. Working with the Carter School, the city has outlined a process to listen to community voices, engage the community in learning sessions and structured, facilitated discussions, and will form a diverse working group to make recommendations on action items and identify areas for further community discussion. City Council will consider the recommendations in 2021 before making decisions regarding the city’s nomenclature.

Please explore this project site, drop a pin on the map, share your ideas, tell your story, or leave a comment. Click on the social media icons to share with others.

Comments

Conversations about history, systemic racism, symbolism, and identity are difficult and complex. They can trigger passionate responses. As community members ask questions, share concerns, and engage in collective introspection, we encourage civil and respectful discourse. 

After you post your comment, please explore stories and ideas shared by other community members. Drop a pin on the map to identify areas for further study. 

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I have said for sometime now that if not blighted by lack of reverence for the facts, history becomes a great teacher as it lays hindsight before us in this journey thru life and we need to heed it. The afore-mentioned confederate-related items have ceased to memorialize as that time has past. They now serve as historical reminders of America's past whether it be good or bad. They also serve to gauge society's progress and it indicates there is much to do. This time and money must go toward the eradication of racial disparity not the reminders of our history. Our history is our history, for better or worse, we become better and stronger by learning not by erasing it. Education is tantamount for this effort to be successful and it should have began 150 years ago; but look at the woefully inadequate schools that exist today particularly in the black communities. Fairfax city needs to become a leader and insure that each and every child within it's boundary regardless of race, color, creed, or social status receives a proper education. Also education needs to be another topic of discussion.

oldEd 10 months ago

We select street names to indicate what is important to us, what we value, what we want to be. Street names that honor the Confederacy honor people who left our country and fought to maintain ownership of other humans (see the Cornerstone Speech). Those are values we no longer share, and we should not honor those people. Changing street names will not erase history but rather will show what our city values. And while I agree there are many important issues to address, this topic deserves our attention.

ValuesForToday 10 months ago

The action of naming a street after an individual, group or cause, or erecting a monument to such an individual, group or cause, does not constitute an objective, correct, or compassionate representation of history. On the contrary, it distorts and counteracts any attempt at compassion in representing our history. It should go without saying that, generally speaking, a street or monument named after an individual constitutes an informed, conscious decision to honor that individual and what they stood for. In choosing to pass up an opportunity to correct that mistake, one effectively makes that same decision to glorify those who fought against efforts to abolish slavery, and therefore to glorify slavery itself. Anyone with a basic, middle school understanding of U.S. history should know that names such as Lee and Pickett primarily stood for the Confederacy, and therefore for slavery. History is learned in classrooms and museums, not from racist statues.

BlackLivesMatter 10 months ago

I want to acknowledge people who bring concerns about erasing history, but monuments that convey no historical information and serve only to glorify the undemocratic institution of slavery ought to go. Lee Jackson highway serves as a monument, but unlike historical markers that convey information about actual events, Lee-Jackson Highway servers no such purpose other than glorifying individuals who tried to uphold undemocratic institutions. I advocate changing the names of Lee Jackson Highway and Old Lee Highway. We will erase no history by doing so. Slavery and the Civil War left indelible marks on this country and our students will inevitably learn about the players in the Civil War like Lee and Jackson who tried unsuccessfully to defend slavery, and institutions that are completely incompatible with democracy. By removing Lee and Jackson we will express our democratic values by ceasing to honour those who attempted to uphold undemocratic and immoral systems.

Acknowledge and heal 10 months ago

I hear a lot of people trying to shut down debate by claiming conversations about street names and historic markers are trying to erase history, on the contrary. There is not enough historical context to historical markers and statues in Southern cities. We need to look at our civil war plaques and markers and ask why were they put there? When? And who paid for them? And why? Were our statues markers and monuments approved by former city council members who belonged to the KKK and other genocidal Southern organisations. There are some markers in this city that do provide historical information about when and where civil war events happened but if they are in any way connected to genocidal post-reconstruction movements that terrorised our country’s Black population we need to know about it acknowledge and make it known.

Acknowledge and heal 10 months ago

I have to agree with below comments. While i appreciate trying to take initiative to change things, this may not be the best topic that needs change. What Americans need to remember is our history is our history. That's what has made us a great nation. We have made many mistakes but through the years have learned from them. Those who want to "erase" it all and pretend it never happened are just kidding themselves. Can we remember that back in history this was the everyday norm. I''m not saying by any means it was right but also, this was the normal practice back then. Any also, please remember too that many a slave owner treated them with kindness and even gave them property when the Civil War was over. You can't turn a blind eye and just say everyone was evil and wrong. Can we take a look at Brazil. They imported almost double the amount of slave that the United States did. How about Belgium? They took a whole country's land and wiped out their population. Let's learn from past mistakes and work towards a better future so we are doomed to repeat past mistakes.

tiredofthepettiness 10 months ago

This project seems unnecessary. There is no groundswell of interest in it. And, it will stir up controversy where none exists, something we do not need in these difficult times. Nevertheless, if it proceeds, I offer the following:

First Principles
All the citizens of Fairfax must have their say on any City-wide proposal. This means that any proposal to remove or change historical markers or other things such as the City seal should be put up to a referendum.

Any changes affecting a small part of the City such as a street name should be initiated by and voted on by the residents of that street.

The cemetery should be off limits. Brave soldiers are buried there and they did their duty and died as they saw their duty in the context of their times. Let them rest in peace.

First Tasks
There are two big elephants in the room that should be addressed. The first should be to rename George Mason University. George Mason, after whom the university is named, owned about 300 slaves.

The second task should be to consider changing the name of the City of Fairfax. The City was named after Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, who not only owned slaves but also engaged in the slave trade. The name "Providence" will do.

Darby 10 months ago

Removed by moderator.

Bui Ngoc Sang 11 months ago

Fairfax City Council,

First, thank you for the posture you have taken to listen and consider all feedback. Isn't that what all of us should be doing all the time! I know I have a long way to go there ... thank you for setting the example.

As far as name changes, I recommend leaving the names as they are ... and letting them be a reminder of our history and an opportunity to have meaningful discussions. If we change a street/association name because the name is associated with a person who did something wrong ... we need to have no names for anything. If we change one name, what is the rationale and how are we consistent ... it would seem different people would have different rationales, and if we change one, we need to change all.

I want to listen and be sensitive to the emotions that my friends and neighbors have with certain names. But, I don't want to erase history ... even if it is something I would not be proud of. I would agree that there are certain names that should not be used (e.g., Hitler, Manson, Terrorist, Ni**er, etc) ... I would hope decisions makers would have sense to never consider them in the first place. There are always two sides in a conflict ... just because someone ended up on the wrong side of history does not mean they were a heinous person. We might want to listen to the perspective they had ... we could be surprised.

That said, I do think we need to be good listeners to those who are different from us ... who experience life differently. I may be part of the problem, and I need to hear respectful input that would allow me to see how I come across. But, that is a different topic than names.

LongTermView 11 months ago

Consider including single parent households, single with no children adults, and working families. While this is a family friendly area, we are not all living in nuclear households with a working father and stay at home mom. This is not the 1950s anymore. Most events and activities feel like they cater to one population.

WorkingMom 11 months ago
Page last updated: 13 October 2021, 04:41