Mixed reviews from residents as Richmond Highway signs go up

Richmond

Richmond Highway sign. (Photo by Jacob Sexton)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Social unrest and protests last summer reignited the debate over Richmond’s confederate past. This spurred action from the City of Richmond. Confederate monuments came down over the summer and now next on the city’s list is street signs.

On Thursday, crews with the Department of Public Works removed the first Jefferson Davis Highway sign along U.S. Route 1 and installed a new Richmond Highway sign.

Mayor Levar Stoney and city council members approved an ordinance in December to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway.

It’s a move Mayor Stoney said will, “move Richmond forward by dismantling racist symbols of the city’s Confederate past and to celebrate its 21st century values of unity, equity and inclusion.”

Crews will replace 98 signs over the next month. The project will cost the city about $45,000.

For some this is a long-awaited move to get rid of memories of a dark time in the city’s history. 

“Consistent protests that happened in 2020 literally elevated that conversation to be on a higher priority,” said Jay Guevara.

He grew up near the road formerly named Jefferson Davis Highway and said it’s a small step forward for a more progressive city.

“I’m just real proud of the move honestly. It’s just really letting go of the past,” he said.

But for others, it’s a piece of history they feel should not be touched. Martin Lopez grew up near Richmond Highway and is now raising a family of his own.

“I will forever call it Jefferson Davis,” he said.

Calling it the road of opportunity, Lopez doesn’t want to see the history erased from the area.

“Nothing should be changed. It should stay as it is and we should focus on bigger problems,” said Lopez.

He added the Mayor and city council should spend the money on other projects and receive feedback from citizens before making a decision like this.

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