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

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Update: April 26, 2022 -- The public hearing on streets to be renamed has been moved to June 14. Council action would occur June 28.

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.

Update: April 26, 2022 -- The public hearing on streets to be renamed has been moved to June 14. Council action would occur June 28.

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. 

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I have read the other comments, and many people have shared wonderful points. We live in a historical city, we are going to have some names of people that had to do with our local history. I do not think most streets and roads should be renamed. I do agree that Confederate Lane and Plantation Parkway should be renamed. It's the people, not the names of roads, that make our area inclusive.

Jilllynn about 1 month ago

I am a resident of Stonewall Avenue. The street does not have a statue, it is not a public building. It is a quiet suburban street with 15 lots and homes. It seems an over reach to change the name placing the burden on the home owners. Informing and updating government IDs, family, creditors, financial institutions, mortgages and any other important record requiring an address. Stonewall Inn and Stonewall Kitchen are connotations that are just as easily applied to our street. Perhaps even a wall constructed of field stone or tightly interlocked rocks. Yes, I understand the original intention was most likely General Jackson as a connecting street was named after General Stoughton. Should we rename Stoughton as not to memorialize his incompetence and failed confirmation. The flyer and mailer were appreciated to communicate the City’s effort to stimulate an open process. More detail on the process needs to become transparent.
How will the discussion be managed?
Will the streets be considered together or separate discussions?
Will the city propose names?
Will the individual residents propose their streets adopted name?
Is there a time line?
Other commenters note that there are different levels of concern among names. Confederate Lane, Plantation Parkway certainly carry more weight than Scarlet Circle or traveler street. What percentage of the general public associate Traveler with Robert Lee’s horse?
There are many comments that stimulate thoughtful discussion, i did not see any solid projection of cost to the city and homeowner.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

TomC about 1 month ago

If you change the name of the subdivision, you are over 95% done. Of the list you sent out only Reb and Confederate say Civil War in anyway. We have Rangers in today’s army and when a Seal Team engages the report is always Seal Team ? raided the compound, or the village. So, we have raiders in the Navy. A Plantation is an agricultural estate, usually growing one type of crop. It does not require slaves to be a Plantation. There are many of them in many places, countries, including the US. Scarlet is a color. I had to look up Singleton. How many people do you think knows that was Mosby’s middle name?! I admit that I did know the name of Lee’s steed, not unusual for a girl from Richmond, but again I would guess most people don’t.
Drop the Mosby and all you have are words that mean or can be used to describe many things that have zero to do with that horrible time in our history.

Pat about 1 month ago

Changing Street Names to a Shenandoah Park Theme

Mosby Woods is a wonderful place to live because of its proximity to park land. Why not rename certain streets (Confederate, Reb, Plantation, and other references to the Confederacy) to celebrate our local VA parks and their flora and fauna?

According to the votes conducted by the Mosby Woods HOA and the signs in residents' yards, the name most people do not want changed is Ranger Road. Following the new theme, Ranger Road could stay as a reference to a park ranger.

Here is a slideshow I have put together to propose these changes:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/12bvV8NkoZdggXRARboX3oQwKjk4Bb98hdzC7GrusYn4/edit?usp=sharing

See you tonight!
-Marissa

MPerrone about 1 month ago

I am a long time Mosby Woods resident. I spent my childhood on Antietam Avenue for 20 years and have lived on Brigade Drive for the last 23 years. I do believe some streets need to be changed to be more inclusive but believe there can be alternative / unique ways that can be utilized to minimize the impact that also provide a historical perspective of healing to our neighborhood. The City should work to be more intentional and inclusive in hearing the voice of all impacted residents, as well as transparent in sharing the costs (both in time and monetary) to those potentially impacted by changes to their own street name, as well as all City Taxpayers who will also bear the costs.

Here are my recommendations

Recommendation 1 - Each Street / Street Name Sign in Mosby Woods should have a Historical Plaque.
I believe all of our streets should have a plaque on the street sign name to provide the historic background of the name. Providing a paragraph or two on the plaque on each street sign name would promote an understanding of the history of the street.

Many of the streets in Mosby Woods have a United States / Union Army theme. However, I also believe that some streets have a negative impact (such as Plantation and Confederate). I have had friends come to my home and ask what’s up with the street names. Plantation and Confederate are offensive to many, have left a negative impression of the neighborhood, and should be changed.

Recommendation 2- Re-brand Some Streets with Same Name / New Representation -
The Stakeholder advisory group made a number of recommendations to the City (included at the bottom of this email). One of those recommendations was: “ b. Minimize negative Impacts for residents and businesses on those streets.”

Rather than rename every name of a street with a Confederate tie, I believe we can be creative in our approach. For some streets, we can re-brand the streets that have a Confederate theme to a neutral or United States (Union) theme with the same name; re-branding would reduce the impact to a greater number of neighbors.

For example, Ranger Road could be renamed (which impacts 104 homes). Instead of the street being remembered as Mosby’s Rangers, we could remember the Loudoun Rangers. They were a special unit that was formed to combat Confederate partisan rangers in Virginia during the Civil War — an independent cavalry unit drawn from the largely Quaker and German farming communities of northern Loudoun County, Virginia.

https://www.loudounhistory.org/history/loudoun-cw-rangers/

The Street Name History Plaque could commemorate these local Loudoun Rangers.

Another example, Singleton Circle (10 homes) could no longer represent John Singleton Mosby, but now represent William Henry Singleton. William Henry Singleton was born to his enslaved mother, Lettice, and her master’s brother, William Singleton. At the age of four he was sold away from his mother, but ran back to her several times throughout his life. When the war broke out, he escaped to Union lines and volunteered for service. After being dismissed, he rallied one thousand Black soldiers and received a promotion as a sergeant.

https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/singleton/singleton.html

There are potentially other “Confederate” tied street names that don’t have to be renamed - but can pivot to now represent those who fought against slavery. We need to do the due diligence of history research to see how we could re-brand these names. By having the Street Name Plaques, as well as having a “Memory Lane” or Neighborhood Website with the full historical context, we can publicize the re-branding / pivot of street names. This effort should be undertaken in order to meet the Stakeholders recommendation and can eliminate the impact to at least some street residents where rebranding can occur.

Recommendation 3 - Intentional In Person Engagement with impacted homes -
The Stakeholder group also advised: “The city should intentionally engage residents who live on streets and in neighborhoods that are recommended for change, as well as similarly affected businesses.”

While the City has published open forums to begin the discussion - to my knowledge, no one has gone home to home to speak directly with neighbors about the upcoming process, what it entails, to hear directly from those that will have to spend hours and their own dollars to make these changes. I live in Mosby Woods, and no one has come to my door to explain the process. It appears most of this work has been done without a deep understanding of all of the process involved. To move ahead without directly engaging those neighbors is unfair, undemocratic, and non-inclusive of the willingness to hear all voices in the community.

Recommendation 4 - Publicize the anticipated costs in time and monetary funds to those impacted with a potential street name, as well as to City taxpayers.
The Stakeholder group also advised:

“The city should adopt a plan to mitigate the financial impact for any residents, homeowners, or businesses located on the streets and neighborhoods being renamed. We propose having Fairfax City cover any costs to change licenses, etc. and to have as many changes as possible made by the City government itself”

“Provide support for residents and businesses in making the changes. There should be a designated phone number to call that will connect residents with an employee who can assist those that need assistance”

Having recently gone through a name change, I know the impact of having to notify a multitude of parties: driver's license, Federal/State/local authorities, utility providers, schools, employers, mortgage provider, banks, legal documents (wills, trusts, etc.) and much more! I am still making some of these changes because it is a multi-step process and time-consuming process.

To my knowledge, the City has nowhere publicized the costs of effort, time, and funds to complete these many changes or informed those specifically impacted of this potential pending work. I am especially concerned the elderly may not fully understand the complexity of the process. What are the legal ramifications if people don’t change everything in time or correctly? If someone does not change their legal documents (such as their will or trust) where their home address is included, what is the impact? The City must be transparent ahead of the process so people can understand and raise their voice / opinion in support of the change (or not).

Recommendation 5 - Publicize stories of redemption and reconciliations.
The Stakeholder group as recommended: “Engage the Fairfax City Community in a reconciliation/healing process

“The Group recognizes that the issue of street and neighborhood name changes has caused tension and has impacted relationships among neighbors, particularly in Mosby Woods. A reconciliation or healing process is needed following the decision to allow the community members on all sides to move forward together to build a stronger Fairfax City community.”

I believe looking for stories of redemption and the potential for change would be beneficial to bring healing to our neighborhood, Virginia, and country. All of us can grow in our understanding of cultural situations.

Even after fighting as a Confederate, John Mosby was able to change and grow in his perspective. He became a friend and supporter of Ulysses S. Grant (former head of the Union Army), serving in his Presidential campaign and other political posts. This information should be posted somewhere in the neighborhood so people can heal.

“As late as 1902 he (John Mosby) mused, “in retrospect slavery seems such a monstrous thing that some are now trying to prove that slavery was not the cause of the war.” Mosby thought this was humbug. He was unrepentant in his admiration of Grant, or for turning Republican, writing the year before his death that “my animosity toward the North has long passed away.” https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/mosby-john-singleton-1833-1916/

“Mosby and Grant would form an unlikely friendship. “Since the close of the war, I have come to know Colonel Mosby personally and somewhat intimately,” Grant later wrote. “He is a different man entirely from what I supposed.”

Meanwhile, Mosby became active in the Republican Party and campaigned for Grant. He fought for reconciliation and tried to secure similar pardons for other Confederate veterans, but many of his ex-Confederate comrades weren’t interested—they saw him as a traitor.” https://warisboring.com/confederate-veteran-john-mosby-knew-the-lost-cause-was-bull/

Additionally, it would be helpful and conciliatory if Fairfax City Council members and other residents who are in favor of name changes volunteer to help those residents whose street names are being changed. Dedicating their time to help others should be a part of the process.

Recommendation 6 - Include Women and People of Color in the new street names:
The Stakeholder group recommended: “Engage the community in a process for selecting new street and neighborhood names.”

New Neighborhood Name: Memory Lane

Focus: Remembering those who fought to end the abuses of slavery during the Civil War.

Some of the streets in Mosby Woods already remember the Union’s fight to end slavery. For example, William Tecumseh Sherman fought in the battle of Atlanta (covering 3 Streets: Tecumseh, Sherman, Atlanta). Blue Coats were worn by the Union Army (Street: Blue Coat).

I would like to recommend potential names for new streets. This would recognize women of color who fought in the Civil War:

Harriet Tubman - Tubman a prominent Marylander who courageously fought to liberate her family. She also took a very active role in the Civil War, as a Spy, Nurse, and Cook. She nursed here in Virginia. Tubman became the first woman in the country’s history to lead a military expedition.

https://www.army.mil/article/126731/harriet_tubman_nurse_spy_scout

https://www.nursing.virginia.edu/news/flashback-harriet-tubman-nurse/

Maria Lewis - Lewis was from Albemarle County, Virginia. Maria Lewis fought for the Union Army. For her disguise, chose to portray a character from Uncle Tom’s Cabin – George Harris. Maria – a former slave – was a cavalryman, remained disguised as a man, and scouted, fought, and skirmished on horseback.

https://www.timelinesmagazine.com/publication/civil_war_courier/courageous-women-of-the-civil-war-soldiers-spies-medics-and-more/article_420d36de-4ce5-11ea-8f9b-93384ca70ef1.html

Thank you for your consideration of looking at all alternatives in a creative way to minimize the impact to our neighbors, but also provide a new historical context for our neighborhood.

https://www.fairfaxva.gov/Home/Components/News/News/11813/18

The Mayor and City Council continue the process to rename certain city streets, as recommended by the Connecting Fairfax City for All Stakeholder Advisory Group Final Report and Recommendations:

"....2. Because The Way In Which These Changes Are Implemented Is important as the changes themselves, the City Council should adopt several key strategies:

a. Engage the community in a process for selecting new street and neighborhood names.

o The city should intentionally engage residents who live on streets and in neighborhoods that are recommended for change, as well as similarly affected businesses.

b. Minimize negative Impacts for residents and businesses on those streets.

o The city should adopt a plan to mitigate the financial impact for any residents, homeowners, or businesses located on the streets and neighborhoods being renamed. We propose having Fairfax City cover any costs to change licenses, etc. and to have as many changes as possible made by the City government itself.

o Provide support for residents and businesses in making the changes. There should be a designated phone number to call that will connect residents with an employee who can assist those that need assistance.

o Set a date for change with enough notice to give affected residents an opportunity to plan for the changes (this should be as soon as staff can identify is reasonably possible).

c. Engage the Fairfax City Community in a reconciliation/healing process

o The Group recognizes that the issue of street and neighborhood name changes has caused tension and has impacted relationships among neighbors, particularly in Mosby Woods. A reconciliation or healing process is needed following the decision to allow the community members on all sides to move forward together to build a stronger Fairfax City community.

d. Inform the community on the reasons and rationale for changes.

o Consider the impact of current names on future generations and whether these names reflect inclusivity, foster a sense of community and make it more welcoming. Make clear that the goal of these changes is to promote caring and inclusivity.

o Focus on the modern-day impact of the names on community members.

o Recognize that looking forward to make changes does not require condemning actions or people of the past.

o Share a set of the most impactful facts from the Listening and Learning sessions that will serve to give perspective to our recommendation (i.e. - “Fair Facts”) - share lessons learned and/or approaches from other communities as highlighted in the Listening and Learning sessions


o Share benefits from making changes. For example, renaming could give us an opportunity to recognize local community members that have had a positive impact on Fairfax City. A ceremony could be held to honor those individuals, and a cash prize to those whose street name proposals are selected. We could also direct the rebranding work to local businesses and residents."

Joyce about 1 month ago

When we consider renaming streets, let's focus on those that are recognizable as associated solely with the Confederacy or slavery. For example, why change a name which, when taken in a neutral context, will be assumed by many (including myself) to be honoring the World War II heroes who stormed the cliffs at Normandy (Rangers) or risked their lives behind enemy lines (Raiders). Similarly, why rename a street named after a color of lipstick? Why not name a street after a wanderer or traveler? My point is: remove the offensive names (Confederate, Plantation, Mosby, Reb) and the other names will not hearken to slavery or the Confederacy. Another example is Singleton. When I try to associate (on a Google search) Singleton to slavery or the Confederacy (since I am not familiar with the name) I get a family in South Carolina which owned a plantation and slaves or the middle name of John S. Mosby. I do not know if either is the reason for the street name, but neither is a very compelling argument for changing the street name.

Jim Roberts about 1 month ago

I want to comment on the renaming of streets. I don't think Ranger should be renamed. There are many rangers from Ranger Rick to the Lone Ranger. Neither should Scarlet be renamed. It is a color and a woman's name. Traveler should not be renamed. He was a horse who was loyal to his master. He did not have any choice who his master was.

The others should be changed.

Sarah Bennett

bennsarah about 1 month ago

When the City budget is in the black, taxes have been reduced and all future projects are fully funded, THEN start talking about changing street names. Until then, stop wasting tax payer money on this pointless exercise! Is there truly no other place that money needs to go -- no projects, no charitable endeavors, no improvements to libraries, parks or transportation? I find the City's willingness to even consider name changes to be galling. Have you read your own web page? "The city celebrates its past and embraces the future, and encourages it residents, business leaders and visitors to find out more about this fascinating city." It will be pretty hard to celebrate a past that you are busy trying to erase.

Bee about 1 month ago

While it is nice that they are trying to get feedback from diverse stakeholders across the community, the changing of the neighborhood roads really should be left to the votes of the home owners on their individual streets. That or the City should help compensate for the costs associated with the name changes since it is very easy for folks that don’t live on the recommended streets to request the name changes since they have no further consequences once it is implemented.

Equity about 1 month ago

I was out of town and missed the poll. As a resident of Plantation Parkway, I strongly feel that this street name, along with Confederate Lane and Reb Street, should be changed. There is absolutely no reason to honor a failed rebellion that sought to maintain the institution of slavery. (Yes, other street names possess a connection to the Confederacy, but the association is not nearly as strong or immediate. These three are the most egregious by far.) I would be in support of renaming all of the neighborhood streets, but at the very least, these three street names need to change.

Meg about 1 month ago

My wife and I were unable to vote on the MW street name change poll due to being out of town so please accept these brief comments as our two votes as MW home owners. Yes, to changing Reb. No homes on that connecting street. Yes, to Plantation. Although the home owners on that street aught to have the final word as they will have to shoulder the burdens, both financial and time consuming, that the city (all Fairfax tax payers) do not take care of such as wills, trusts and other legal documents. No, to all other street name changes and no, to changing the name of our community.
As an alternative, please consider changing the name of Plantation between Fairfax Blvd and the intersection of Ranger.
Thank you.

Will about 1 month ago

We live in Mosby woods, Antietam avenue, relatively new to the neighborhood and Virginia buying a home 8 years ago. We moved here after a 30 year army career and moved here as empty nesters so lots of changes in our lives. Admittedly, the names of the streets were a little unsettling and landing on Antietam somewhat ironic as my wife and I both went to high school in Maryland near Antietam. Our initial impression of fairfax and northern Virginia was positive but were taken aback by the vast memorialization of the confederacy history. Additionally after we had settled, we hosted a dinner party for some long time army family friends and as they navigated their way through Mosby woods to our home they entered by asking what kind of backwards neighborhood do you live in? The street names, starting with plantation as our entry way seemed outdated and offensive to them as did confederate to name a few.
We would welcome changes to any or all the street names within Mosby woods so as to never have visitors come to our home and have that same reaction again.

Irish mike about 1 month ago

Projects like this name change proposal are a disgrace and help to erode and even destroy our original cultural and heritage. I would think Fairfax government would have spent much better use of their time than to dwell on ridiculous projects like this asinine name change proposal. Obviously, some of our historic figures were no angels and some advocated slavery, however, I'm sure you could NOT equate their actions and personalities to figures like: Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and Saddam Husein.

PLEASE LEAVE THE NAMES, OUR CULTURAL, AND OUR HERITAGE INTACT!!!

CONCERNED US PATRIOT about 1 month ago

I strongly oppose the changing of street names. Erasing history does not change history.

jcw about 1 month ago

Leave the street names alone. They are part of history and everyone can't be happy (with anything). Do not cater to a vocal minority regarding an issue that is less than some would have you believe.

Ping about 1 month ago

On too many leveIs to list here, I oppose renaming the streets on the list and other faddish, futile efforts to erase history.

The Council's stated goals of inclusivity, equity, and diversity would actually coerce exclusion, favoritism and homogeneity.


Just one other level: I have ancestors who fought and suffered on both sides in the Civil War -- a couple of individuals fought, alternatively, on both sides -- all because the US legislature failed to resolve the issue of the day. We ought not forget.

Enoch about 1 month ago

I support the renaming of the streets on the list. I think they should be renamed to natural features or landmarks, rather than to other people or causes. Nobody is up in arms over Little River Turnpike, for instance. Making street names more neutral will be less divisive than exchanging one person’s name for another.

Jeff about 1 month ago

Leave the street names as it is. Changing a street name ain't gonna fix racism. It's mostly white people with a savior complex trying to change it, i doubt the POC even give a damn.

Anti Lib about 1 month ago

I really do not think it is necessary to rename any of these streets, but I especially object to renaming Lee Highway. Lee Highway is an old and historic, multi-state major US highway. Renaming a part of it in Northern Virginia will firstly, only eradicate the name from a small portion of the whole, and secondly and more importantly, erase a part of motoring history. Renaming this road seems akin to renaming the Lincoln Highway, another old and historic US route.

Cory J about 1 month ago

"The goal is to connect the present to a more equitable and inclusive future for all city residents, businesses, and visitors."

How much taxpayer money was wasted on the ideation, brainstorming, synergizing, fine tuning, refining, drafting, re-writing, imaging, and green lighting this vacuous non-thought?

I would very much prefer that our local government drop this empty posturing and focus on improving the efficiency and cost effectiveness of services and reduce the public debt.

jont about 1 month ago
Page last updated: 26 Apr 2022, 10:44 AM