After 4 months of thoughtful discussion, public engagement, and communication with Lee Highway businesses, the Working Group On Renaming Lee Highway has selected its top choice and four alternatives for Lee Highway’s new name.
The Working Group’s preferred name is Mildred & Richard Loving Avenue, honoring the couple who fought for marriage equality for interracial couples.
legalized same sex marriage. For me, the name Loving has both Virginia and national significance and it encompasses justice.”
The name “Mildred & Richard Loving Avenue” not only tells the story of triumph over injustice but offers the opportunity to connect the Lee Highway corridor with other regional jurisdictions in the state of Virginia. The Lovings not only lived in the state, but the name relates to the Virginia state slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers.” When travelers cross Key Bridge coming to Virginia from DC, they are met with the state slogan. It was the opinion of the Working Group that it made sense that the name “Loving” would be the first road traveled on in the state. The name also represents a desire of Arlington County for people to treat one another in a loving way.
public and student polls, “Loving” was the clear front runner, garnering 1,146 votes of the 3,646 votes cast. All four Advisory Groups supported the name as well, suggesting it would provide the corridor with a sense of place, would support future branding endeavors, is an easy name to pronounce and spell, and tells a great story.
In addition to Mildred and Richard Loving Avenue, the Working Group supported four alternate name choices: John M. Langston Boulevard, Ella Baker Boulevard, Dr. Edward T. Morton Avenue, and Main Street.
John M. Langston was an American abolitionist, attorney, educator, activist, diplomat, and politician who was the first Black person elected to Congress from Virginia. His ties to Arlington date back to 1867 when he was the Inspector General of the Freedman's Bureau, the managing agency over Freedman's Village which was the contraband camp for formerly enslaved people in Arlington. Lee Highway also runs right past the old segregated John M Langston Elementary School.
the story of the dark [racial] history of Arlington County as well as the County’s brightest time - when the four students who went to Langston Elementary were the first four students to integrate the state of Virginia. The name tells the whole story of how Arlington has evolved and grown over the years.”
Ella Josephine Baker, also known as the Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement, was a native daughter of Virginia, born in Norfolk on December 13, 1903. She was a civil rights pioneer who championed the ordinary citizen. Her expert organizational skills were instrumental in the fight for racial equity and she mentored many emerging civil rights leaders, such as John Lewis.
Dr. Edward Morton, the first Black physician in North Arlington, was a powerful early voice for racial equality in the County, and specifically on Lee Highway. His home and medical practice were located at 4842 Lee Highway, the site that currently is the McDonald’s Restaurant. Dr. Morton was a leader in the Hall's Hill neighborhood, was a candidate for County Board in the 1930s, and promoted Black Empowerment.
The Lee Highway Alliance and Plan Lee Highway have been working to bring communities together through community-based grassroots planning, support of local businesses, and recognizing local history and identity through heritage-based education. The name “Main Street” represents the diversity that makes the 4.6 mile corridor unique.
The LHA board approved of the name choices on December 10 and will present the Working Group’s recommendations to the Arlington County Board next week. The County Board will then submit the recommendation to either the Commonwealth Transportation Board or the Virginia General Assemblyfor approval and implementation.
Thank you to the 25 dedicated members of the Working Group for their time and commitment to this process, to the Arlington County Board, and to the Arlington community for welcoming and participating in the renaming effort.