Confederate Avenue to be renamed United Avenue, may receive historic marker

Editor’s note: This story corrects an error in the second bullet point, regarding the proposed new name for East Confederate Avenue, SE.

By David Pendered

Atlanta’s Confederate Avenue is to be renamed United Avenue, ending years of debate over what – if anything – to do with a name that holds near mystical power. The former name may be memorialized with an historic marker – in keeping with a multi-national practice of augmenting, rather than removing, a controversial mark of history.

confederate avenue, 1

Confederate Avenue in Atlanta is to be renamed United Avenue, pending a final vote Oct. 1 by the Atlanta City Council. File/Credit: wsbtv.com

The entire renaming proposal calls for the following:

  • Renaming Confederate Avenue S.E., in its entirety, to United Avenue, S.E.;
  • Renaming East Confederate Avenue, S.E., in its entirety, to United Avenue, S.E.;
  • Renaming Confederate Court, S.E., to Trestletree Court, S.E.;
  • The ordinance shall take effect Jan. 21, 2019;
  • The city’s Department of Public Works is authorized to design, make and install the new street signs.

The Atlanta City Council is slated to approve the measure at its Oct. 1 meeting.

The proposed renaming was such as slam dunk Tuesday that no members of the Atlanta City Council commented on the proposal at the meeting of the City Utilities Committee. Public comments were all in favor, during a public hearing the committee convened before the vote.

The committee vote was unanimous in favor of the renaming.

The legislation was introduced by Councilmember Carla Smith and signed by 13 of the council’s remaining 15 members. The only member who did not sign the paper is Councilmember Howard Shook, who represents the Buckhead area.

Carla Smith

Carla Smith

This final phase of the renaming has been years in the making, according to Smith, who represents the area. The area is a vortex of residents, some of whom object to the name Confederate Avenue.

“I have a little boy who just turned 3, and I’m so excited about raising him on United Avenue and not Confederate Avenue,” said Jennette Gayer, a resident of East Confederate Avenue.

The push to rename the streets gained steam following a fatal clash near a Confederate memorial in Charlottesville, Va., which contributed to then Mayor Kasim Reed’s decision to create an advisory board to consider the fate of the various memorials of the Confederacy in the City of Atlanta, to exclude private and state-owned property.

The advisory board voted Nov. 13, 2017 in favor of a host of recommendations regarding the handling of various memorials around the city that commemorate the Confederacy.

In regards to Confederate Avenue and the other two streets to be renamed, plus others in the city, the board advised:

  • “Immediately change Confederate Avenue, East Confederate Avenue, and any street named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, John B. Gordon, Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dill Lee, or Howell Cobb. The aforementioned were significant Confederate military leaders and actively involved in white supremacist activities after the war, making them undeserving of the honor of a street name in Atlanta.”

In 2017, former Gov. Roy Barnes wrote in favor of removing Confederate emblems in a well-read opinion piece he posted on his law firm’s website. Barnes was the governor who successfully pushed in the 2001 legislative session to remove a Confederate emblem from the state flag. Barnes’ observed in his piece:

Roy Barnes

Roy Barnes

  • “What I have always wondered when I saw those Confederate statues on the courthouse grounds is where is the memorial to those held in bondage? If in fact, the memorials are to a part of our history, shouldn’t history be told in full and not in part?
  • “The carvings of Lee, Davis and Jackson shouldn’t be blown off the side of Stone Mountain, but there should be a telling of the story in truthful terms and not the mythical terms of Gone With The Wind. Truth is truth and only the complete history should be told.
  • “We should examine each of the memorials and street names in this context. For example, Confederate Avenue in Atlanta running in front of the State Patrol in my mind should be changed. It sends the wrong message that the police power of the state is located on a street associated with slavery and suppression.”

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

9 replies
  1. Jeremy Gray says:

    Thanks for the reporting on this, David. One important correction to note, however: East Confederate is slated to have it’s name changed to United (not Confederate).Report

    Reply
  2. Letmesaythis says:

    When will they rename the Richard B. Russell building?
    It seems if the name of something is obviously rooted in history that people would rather forget (mistake) then make sure the ignorant know who Richard B. Russell was, his contributions and the political walls he tried to build.

    Read a book.Report

    Reply
  3. Michael Lucas says:

    Two Bigots do not make one more righteous or progressive than another. Progressives capitalizing on Confederaphobia hysteria are the greatest hypocrites of the current age. Marginalizing fellow Southern Americans for forming a Confederacy to defend themselves which was an action of common sense is no less human than the Progressive Confederacy of ignorance that persists in vilifying and condemning fellow Americans today for being no less human in the capacity of their existence. We are all equally human and we are all equally fallible to be inconsiderate, ignorant, and bigoted. The Confederacy was formed based on fear of an overreaching Government sectionalism of so called Republican Free Soiler White Supremacists who were hostile to sharing and sustaining Southern interests in the development of the United States, in order to pinch out Negroes (African Americans) from their expansion. Fact marginilizing Negroes (African Americans) as they were identified then, who had few if any rights depending upon their local and social position, but that was gradually changing as supported by real evidence that contradicts the current hate-mongering, which as well has persisted for over two hundred years of abolitionists propaganda. Fact, that marginalizing of Negroes began in Africa by Africans who chose to capitalize on human commodities for their own self interest, who enslaved raped and murdered even their neighboring tribes and kingdoms, even their own people for their self interests it was an existing market and institutionalized by Africans of Africans. Now generalizing assuredly oversimplifies the complexity of human existence, but I am limited in space. Fact the greater majority of Anglo Americans and Europeans by their own expansion and technological advancement managed to circumnavigate the globe seizing the initiative for global expansion, for their self interest, which other races of man joined in on the band wagon following suit. Including Sub Saharan Africans Kingdoms intent on their own expansive self-interests.

    Progressives Radical Left Democrats are using Confederaphobia Hysteria as well as others who have their own self interest, including some African Americans whose real interest is in their own Black Supremacy. Confederaphobia aggression is nothing but a reckoning of aggressive retribution, which has escalated racial tensions to a point of hostility, so much so that people have been killed arguing over it into the 21st century. That includes people on both sides of the argument, but note not one Confederate symbol, monument, has been involved accept for the social politically aggressive hatemongering of those attacking Confederate reverence, symbolism, history and descendants. The NAACP is directly responsible for its aggression attacking Confederates, its a documented policy since at least 1991, even though Confederate Apologists have offered to sustain peaceful resolutions they are ignored and are victimized, marginalized, vilified and condemned by hatemongering Liberal left Black & White alike and whatever some Academic agendas have instituted within our society attacking Americas Anglo American past and specifically Confederates for being no less human than they themselves actually are.

    Let he or she who is without sin cast the first stone.

    Confederate is not a bad word, its not guilty by association, the Confederacy of 1861-1865 was no less diverse than the North in fact it may have actually been more so. More Hispanics, Indians (Native Americans), Hebrews, etc… defended the Confederacy. Just because Anglo Americans held the reins of American Development doesn’t make them wrong for defending their supremacy. African Americans are no less Supremacists than any other human! Removing Confederate anything is absolutely a signature of inequality and hypocrisy of African and Liberal Left Supremacists behavior.

    Well let the bigotry they sow prevail and lets see what hell is paved by the latters so called good intentions….Report

    Reply
  4. Sharon says:

    Michael, well put- so much hypocrisy-Yes slavery is an institution that should never happen- not to anyone at anytime- but slavery did not start with the confederacy- slavery existed long before that-Let the truth be told-white slaves were used a lot during the revolutionary war, yes there were even white slaves during the antebellum time-history taught in schools also doesn’t tell of the north having slaves either, does it- slaves were sold in Philadelphia and new York– Slaves were brought into the US through Connecticutl During the colonial times- the North had a lot more slaves and still had some at the time of the Civil War- There were even blacks who had slaves-People really need to find out the truth and the whole truth- Yes the times were changing- at the onset of the civil war a lot of the slaves were freed slaves- many chose to live there in the south- The Democrat party was the party of white supremacy following the civil war- who opposed civil right reforms, the black code laws- the Democrat party started and funded the kkK-(even the NAACP found it okay for Democrat Senator Byrd)who just recently until his death was a member of the KKK) NAACP found it okay- hypocrisy-Find out history on your own people- there was actually a group of black people who actually voted in the period of reconstruction following the civil war-Never known facts should be brought to light- History is History- I agree with Barnes- history should be told but the whole truth should be told- there were many different ethnic groups involved in the making of our country’s history- their stories should be known- all of themReport

    Reply

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  1. […] resident voiced concern about the name of the park. This came during a council committee’s public hearing on the proposed renaming of Confederate Avenue to United Avenue. The speaker, James Coleman, […]Report

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