Although no new names were officially adopted at the February 14 meeting of the Richmond City Council, it was decided that the names of Generals Jackson and Stuart would be removed from the First and Fifth Street bridges.
RICHMOND TO CONSIDER RENAMING OF BRIDGES / CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS WOULD BE HONORED
By GORDON HICKEY
Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2000
© Copyright 2000 The Richmond Times-Dispatch
Nearly 60 years ago, the City Council decided to name the viaducts that connect Jackson Ward with the North Side after Confederate generals.
Now, the majority-black council will consider changing the names to honor icons of the black community.
Mayor Timothy M. Kaine and Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin are co-sponsoring resolutions to rename the spans now commonly referred to as the First Street and Fifth Street bridges after two civil rights leaders.
The First Street viaduct is officially called the J.E.B. Stuart Memorial Bridge. It would be changed to Samuel W. Tucker Bridge. The Fifth Street viaduct, officially called the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Bridge, would be changed to the Curtis Holt Sr. Bridge.
The resolutions are to be taken up by the council Monday night [February 14].
They state that the neighborhoods adjoining the two bridges "have no significant ties to the life" of Stuart or Jackson. [See related article.]
The First Street viaduct links southern Barton Heights with Jackson Ward. It remains under reconstruction and is scheduled to open the end of March.
The Fifth Street viaduct links Highland Park and Jackson Ward. It was rebuilt and opened in August 1997.
The latest resolutions are the second attempt the council has made to change the names of the bridges.
In April 1997 the council adopted a resolution asking the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia Inc. to get the public's help in recommending new names. Those recommendations were to be forwarded to the council by Sept. 1, 1997, for the Jackson bridge and March 1, 1998, for the Stuart bridge. No recommendation was ever made, according to the new resolutions.
It was Kaine and then-Councilman James L. Banks Jr. who asked the museum to come up with recommended names in 1997.
At that time Kaine noted that the people of Jackson Ward have little or nothing in the city named for them and they are "every bit as heroic" as the Confederate generals.
Tucker died in 1990. He was a partner of Oliver W. Hill and state Sen. Henry L. Marsh III in the Richmond law firm of Hill, Tucker & Marsh and worked as a cooperating attorney with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund.
He served as chairman of the legal staff of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP and participated in litigation against more than 50 county and city school boards in an effort to compel desegregation of public schools. One of Tucker's cases resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision forcing the New Kent County School Board to promise a realistic desegregation plan.
The Rev. Curtis J. Holt Sr. died in 1986. He was a civil rights activist and blocked Richmond councilmanic elections for nearly seven years through litigation contending that city blacks lost voter strength when Richmond annexed part of Chesterfield County in 1970.
Approximately 45,000 people, most of them white, lived in the annexed area.
As a result of Holt's suit, federal courts barred Richmond from holding councilmanic elections until 1977, when the courts approved a plan that called for electing council members by districts. Before the 1977 elections, council's nine members had been elected on an at-large basis, and whites controlled a majority of council's seats.
Another piece of Richmond's rich Confederate heritage is on the verge of slipping away. If you object to this senseless change, please contact the co-sponsors of the resolution and let them know exactly how you feel. Better yet, attend the February 14 City Council meeting and show by your presence that you oppose this latest assault on our Confederate heritage.
City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin
Office telephone: (804) 264-2375
Voice-mail: (804) 780-5408
FAX: (804) 264-2896 4221 Chamberlayne Avenue
Richmond, VA 23227
Timothy Kaine, Mayor of Richmond
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