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

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On July 12, 2022, City Council voted to change the names of 14 streets as recommended by the Stakeholder Advisory Group. Watch the meeting.

UPDATE July 12, 2022: City Council voted to change 14 street names. Watch the meeting. If you would like to submit names for consideration, please complete the survey

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 July 12, 2022: City Council voted to change 14 street names. Watch the meeting. If you would like to submit names for consideration, please complete the survey

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. 

On July 12, 2022, City Council voted to change the names of 14 streets as recommended by the Stakeholder Advisory Group. Watch the meeting.

History is the most prominent reason cited for retaining street, neighborhood, and institutional names honoring the Confederacy. While that sounds noble, it conveniently suppresses the actual history those names are honoring. Consider these words delivered to the Virginia Secession Convention in 1861:
" As a race, the African is inferior to the white man. Subordination to the white man is his normal condition. He is not his equal by nature, and cannot be made so by human laws or human institutions. Our system, therefore, so far as regards this inferior race, rests upon this great immutable law of nature. It is founded not upon wrong or injustice, but upon the eternal fitness of things. Hence, its harmonious working for the benefit and advantage of both. Why one race was made inferior to another, is not for us to inquire. The statesman and the Christian, as well as the philosopher, must take things as they find them, and do the best he can with them as he finds them...The great truth, I repeat, upon which our system rests, is the inferiority of the African. The enemies of our institutions ignore this truth. " (Speech of the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, to the Virginia Secession Convention, April 23, 1861)
In 1861 Virginia voted to secede from the Union and to fight with the Confederacy against the "enemies of the institution" of slavery . This is the history Confederate names honor. Please choose the courage to acknowledge this past, without extending it, for the future of Fairfax.

Clayton about 2 years ago

Street considerations for renaming: my humble suggestion is: Rolling Stone Avenue.

Emina Wilhelmina about 2 years ago

The naming of this neighborhood and it’s streets after Confederate iconography in the early 1960s, at a time of resistance in the state of Virginia to the national movement for racial equality and integration in schools, had everything to do with sending a racist message to potential buyers that this neighborhood was intended for white residents only. To retain these names now in 2022 continues to send a racist message - that white residents would rather hold on to a racist past and claim it had some other intent, rather than acknowledge it is racist, and move forward now with positive change.

To quote the great-great-grandchildren of John Mosby in their letter in support of the name change of Mosby Woods Elementary School, “the symbols and history of the Confederacy have been so effectively misrepresented and co-opted by proponents of white supremacy that there can be no justification for “honoring” Confederate military figures by displaying monuments of them or having roads or schools named after them.”

Ron Frerker about 2 years ago

I live on a street that is considered for a name change. All of these street names have main connotations according to dictionary that are “NOT” specifically related to untold deeds done during our history.
Example: Ranger: A ranger is a person who takes care of a park or a piece of land.
Raider: a soldier specially trained for close-range fighting.
Plantation: an area in which trees have been planted
Believe it or not but even confederate is a noun a person one works with, especially in something secret or illegal, an accomplice.
I vote for keeping the names that have been in place for over 60 years. Erasing history or our heritage does not make for a more inclusive world.

happyresident about 2 years ago

I was unable to attend the open house concerning citizen input on renaming streets, as I was out of the country. I have read the list of names, and I support the renaming.

Linda Carter about 2 years ago

Leaving residential street names intact or not is, I believe, a decision most fairly made by those who actually live on these streets. This is the practice common to almost all of our neighboring jurisdictions: Arlington, Fairfax County, etc. While opinions are, in a dynamic community like ours, bound to vary, the costs and disruptions caused by renaming neighborhood streets fall predominantly upon those who reside on these streets. Should a majority of the residents on any of the streets being considered for renaming desire to change them, then that would be the time for the City Council to solicit new names. Doing so beforehand seems premature and at variance with a more democratic representation of community members' preferences, as though our neighbors who reside on these streets cannot be entrusted with weighing these options for themselves. One additional concern I would like to raise pertains to the actual costs of street sign replacements: has the City Council provided City residents with a full assessment of the funds (labor as well as materials) that would be required to replace residential street signs, including changes to City directories, websites, etc.? Such information is important for all City residents to know when considering street name changes since our taxes would fund such changes, money that some City residents might prefer to be used towards other community needs. Thank you very much.

gmacar about 2 years ago

I am angry that these “issues” are being legitimized. This is nothing more than a “Woke” attack on my country and its heritage. Maybe rename streets and monuments after numbers, but somebody will find something racist or otherwise demeaning from even those. This concept has no end. Wake up. Leave the streets alone and let’s concentrate on real issues.

Tony Rowlett about 2 years ago

I'm a city resident of almost 20 years and I strongly favor the city implementing the recommendations of the Stakeholder Advisory Group.

ILoveSpring about 2 years ago

Leave the streets alone! Because if you change them, next will be the city name and county name w/ this _ _ _ _ and it doesn't stop there... Let folks move to a state where there is no history!

Proud Virginia Resident

LRHills Res. about 2 years ago

Lifetime resident of several decades. I support the renaming of all of the streets including Ranger Road. I'm incredibly disheartened to see many of my neighbors and "friends" are so quick to disregard my dignity. I had hoped we had come further than this in 2022. Please continue this important work of making sure Fairfax City represents all residents. Looks like we have a long way to go to equality.

D about 2 years ago

The Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) had very few members that actually lived in the Mosby Woods neighborhood and that is an issue. As a mainly outsider group, they had the power to single handedly choose the list of names that the Council has on the chopping block and have now put our Mosby Woods neighbors on the defensive on their own streets. The SAG member makeup for selecting street names for consideration in Mosby Woods should have been majority residents. I don’t recall any meaningful effort to reach out to all of the residents in Mosby Woods to invite them to be part of the group narrowing the names. Seems not a very “inclusive” effort to invite the actual residents to participate at the beginning.

MosbyWoodsResident about 2 years ago

I don't renaming street to more perfect name will not solve the historical context of the name. The current residents, students don't know who is behind the name. Hiding and revising history doesn't change it. America is place of ideas, not hiding history. Lots of people don't like the replacement of rebel run near Fairfax high school.
I am a Yankee but a student of the Civil War. I live in Fairfax City, and don't like the re.oval of statues or street names. If you believe this street name change has majority support, put it the ballot for the voters.

Edpaud501 about 2 years ago

I applaud the effort of Mosby Woods residents who wish to maintain the names of their streets and neighborhood. If the name of the street on which one lives determines how that person treats other people then we have a bigger problem to deal with. What I do see if the push for change being devisive and tearing at the fabric which makes Mosby Woods and the city of Fairfax a community.

California-Native about 2 years ago

As a long time resident of the City and Mosby Woods, I want to let the Council know of my support for the name changes for all of the streets in the neighborhood that are being considered. While I don’t live on a street that is being considered for change, I would not let that be my first consideration. In fact, I have supported changing the name of ALL streets in the neighborhood as well as the name of the neighborhood itself. It is long past time we rid our city of these names that celebrate the Confederacy and move on. This is not something unheard of — neighborhood names change, street names change, even complete city names change. In this case, I believe, that these changes will be a positive for the neighborhood and City long into the future.

MCamp about 2 years ago

To No one because you don't listen:
The input you are looking for is mute -- you've made up your mind which is so so sad. I've lived here since 1972 and you all have changed the look and character of Fairfax City. Once was the promise to keep the city as an historic presence. That did not happen. Sorry but the promise was broken. There is a lot going on in the world and its embarrassing. Now you want to change the names of streets. Why is history bad? We have grown as a nation. Why do we have to change the names of certain streets that have been the name for many many years. Its History people!!!. I am personally insulted with everything this city has done recently So sad... I do not think it is right to change the names of the streets you mention. You are just doing what the trend is.. Bring back the promise....to keep the City a city with character and history.. You won't and I know it. So Sad. Oh by the way, Lord Fairfax bought and sold enslaved Africans and derived much of his income from the LABOR of several hundred slaves on 30 farms. If we change the streets then we should change the name of our once good city.
I can't wait to move out of this city and will never come back. You all don't care but thought I'd share my thoughts.
Thank you to the Stakeholders' Advisory Group for all your hard work. I hope all your proposed changes will NOT be implemented... but again, you've already decided which is sad. Politics I guess. LOL I am saddened to see our past be wiped away forever. If anyone that lives in Mosby Woods and want the names to be changed - please just move. Make it easy.

To quote whoever said this: "It is funny to see all these people who purchased a home in this neighborhood, regardless of the names on the streets, "wake up" and decide they need to change the names. Although, it is probably not the residents who want a name change. The thought that "proposals for the city to cover the cost" is the definition of irresponsible behavior. It is going to cost the city money; this money comes from taxes, taxes that should be used for something useful. The city does not work, the city does not pay taxes. If the people who own property on a street want to change the name of the street, they should incur the total cost on their own. Those people, who have to apologize for history, want to spend funds on something that will not change the neighborhood".

1992 resident about 2 years ago

I agree with many of the posters below that the ultimate fate of the name changes should come down to those that currently live on the streets. It is surprising that certain streets didn’t make the cut like Blue Coat Drive and Antietam which are really only linked to war when used in reference or discussion. However, Ranger and Traveler made the cut? A traveler is often thought of a person who is worldly and rich in experience. When I think of rangers I normally think of forest or park rangers. Also Scarlet, is not even spelled the same as the Gone with the Wind character. It’s just very strange how they came up with this final list of names but hopefully the City Council will survey the street residents and really defer to the wishes since they are the largest stakeholder by far.

Impacted Mosby Wood Resident about 2 years ago

As a transplant to Virginia, I have come to appreciate there's strong sentiments regarding the names of some of the places in the community in which I live. While I might have feelings about certain things that would never get out of a planning committee nowadays, (Plantation Parkway, for example, or Blue Coat Drive), I also strongly believe that things should be addressed, and weight given, to those most effected by the changes. Listen to the residents of the streets that live there. In today's world, I don't think folks are flocking to Confederate Lane just to be there because they support the Confederate cause, but usually it's a pure function of a house for sale in a location suited for that person.

I do, however, take issue with folks who have no stake in the neighborhood or living on the streets coming in and dictating that something must change, and bearing no cost for the change. There's a cost- time, effort, and monetary costs- to me having to change literally everything where my address appears, and usually those folks advocating for the changes aren't the ones who are going to pay for it. I certainly didn't choose my street name because I liked it, rather this is where a house I wanted was for sale. That doesn't make me a Confederate sympathizer.

Secondly, I would strongly urge folks to spare dual purpose names. Ranger, Scout, Cavalry, Armory, all have dual use, and are cause neutral. The Army rangers, for example, are still an elite fighting unit. I'm sure there's someone out there who would be deeply offended if you changed that name. We live in a society where someone will be offended by everything. No person is perfect, and most of the great Founding Fathers and military war heroes have a tarnished reputation if you dig deep enough. As society changes, and with it social norms and mores, we shouldn't shy away from difficult conversations just because feelings might get hurt. The names serve as a way to communicate, and learn, about the past.

RangerRoadResident about 2 years ago

I moved to the City in 2001 and understood many names of the roads and such were related to a bygone time that no one was otherwise promoting. These were not necessarily intended to intimidate anyone, as I understood it, and there was no glorification of these names as I saw it. They were simply names rooted in a narrow past. The local museum does a very good job of portraying a historical background of the city in the context of the modern day. However, how are we to grow as a community, if we always dwell on past history? Some names, such as Plantation Parkway are questionable, since they outright evoke a past culture of slavery. I'm not aware that we had any real plantations in Fairfax, but maybe there were. I think it is fine to name public streets, parks and buildings after those who contributed to making Fairfax a better place to live, those who were dedicated to the greater community in its fullness. But let's also look to the future and think about who we wish to be and the values we share. Let's think about naming streets, buildings and parks with a view to inspiring those who might grow up here. Let's appreciate our native plants and flowers and our native wildlife. Let's appreciate those things that transcend history and identity that all can share and let's incorporate these things into the public space. How about naming the streets after the people who live there today, with the caveat that the name and the resident have to be in different subdivisions? I don't mind lending my name to a street or even a small cul de sac. Those who gave many of these names to the public space were generally reaching back to a mere 20 year period of time that betrays sorrow at losing a secessionist war intended to preserve a racial hierarchy, a caste system. There were 250 years of modern Virginia history before that, which also included many communities of English and other immigrants and the indigenous peoples. There were writers, artists and musicians, too. There's no need to limit our vision to Fairfax or Virginia or America. There were 250 years of Renaissance and Reformation before that. There were the Roman, Byzantine, Arabic and Persian Empires before that, which also borrowed from Indian and Chinese civilizations before that. There is opportunity to recognize the full sweep of history, if one wants to. But let's recognize more so that there is still a long journey ahead of us and look toward the future and those values that will be critical in guiding us forward. Let's bring those values into the public space for the benefit of future generations to serve as literal guideposts.

GrumpyOldMan about 2 years ago

I didn't participate in the paper survey ran by a Mosby Woods resident. It was too unofficial. I did participate in the Community Association survey as i know and trust the community association. I've heard so many people on either side of the renaming issue wish that the city itself had ran an opinion survey. I think that might have been helpful. I was very encouraged by the number of folks that turned out Monday night. No matter what everyone's feelings on the issue are it pleased me to see so many folks civically engaged. I love my neighborhood Mosby Woods. I live on Plantation Pkwy. I would like to see streets renamed, most especially Confederate, Reb and Plantation.

MKC about 2 years ago

Richard Ratcliffe Farr (1845-1892), namesake of a neighborhood and several streets in our City, fought with Mosby and was wounded, shedding his blood for the Confederacy. Like Mosby, he was pardoned and served honorably post-war, holding office as a state delegate, a sheriff, and a progressive (for that time) superintendent of schools for Fairfax County. Like Mosby, his was a story of redemption. But no matter: consistency demands that we erase, along with Mosby Road and possibly the Mosby Woods neighborhood name, Farr Avenue (near the Providence neighborhood), Farr Drive (Country Club Hills), and that secessionist hotbed of racism, the Farrcroft neighborhood, with its Farr Oak Circle, Farr Oak Place, Farrcroft Green, and Farrcroft Drive. Or, we could abandon the cartoon history of childhood and teach our kids as they grow up a bit of sophistication and perspective about the mixed nature of history.

coachsut about 2 years ago