Officials take down Jefferson Davis Highway signs in Virginia

Highway signs honoring the only president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, were taken down in Arlington County, Va., this week. 

Footage released on Thursday showed officials replacing the signs on U.S. Route 1, which runs through the county, with new signs renaming the road as the Richmond Highway. The move comes months after the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted to have the name changed after nearly a century.

At the time in May, Christian Dorsey, chairman of the Arlington County Board, said that Jefferson Davis “had no known connection to this region …. and the very designation … was a direct and antagonistic response to the proposed Lincoln Highway,” according to local station WTOP.

The county board had reportedly moved to have the name changed in April after Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said the Commonwealth Transportation Board had the authority to rename the road. 

The move to rename the highway was also reportedly welcomed by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) at the time.  

“While it is necessary for us to honestly discuss and interpret Virginia’s history, I feel strongly that commemorating the president of the Confederacy through the name of a major thoroughfare is not appropriate,” he said in a statement then, according to the station.

Northam’s remarks at the time came months after he had come under scrutiny following the emergence of his medical school yearbook, which showed a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe next to a separate picture of the governor on his page.

Around that time in February, Herring had also admitted to wearing blackface at a party when he was an undergraduate in college.

“In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,” Herring told CNN in a statement then.

“It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes — and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others — we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup,” he said.

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