LISTEN: Movement To Rename Jefferson Davis Hwy In Virginia Gaining Steam


Steve Burns

WASHINGTON (WMAL) – U.S. Route 1 was christened the Jefferson Davis Highway in 1922 after lobbying from the Daughters of the Confederacy. 93 years later, some want the name changed again.

“I think we’re just more tolerant and respectful than we were (in 1922), said Daniel Zim, a lawyer from Vienna who started the online petition that now has over 3,000 signatures. “It raises questions about whether he really represents our values.”

The highway runs from the 14th Street Bridge down to Virginia’s border with North Carolina. After a transcontinental highway was named after Abraham Lincoln, the United Daughters of the Confederacy lobbied for a highway honoring Jefferson Davis, and Route 1 was re-christened as the Jefferson Davis Highway in 1922.

“It’s been 93 years since we first named the highway, and it’s time to at least re-evaluate it,” Zim said. “Davis was, at ,best, a champion of slave society, and at worst he was maybe the first leader who committed genocide on American soil.”

Zim said there’s no ideal litmus test to determine what items relating to slavery or the Confederacy should be removed, but suggested lawmakers should look to a person’s legacy.

“(Davis) really divided the country. I believe he was a traitor. He took an oath of loyalty to the United States and then he took up arms against the United States. These are just not appropriate people to be honoring, in my opinion,” Zim said.

He indicated he is getting ready to turn over his petition to the General Assembly, where he believes it will be a “heavy lift” to ultimately see the name changed.

Copyright 2015 by All Rights Reserved (PHOTO: National Park Service)

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