Nashville renames popular street after Civil Rights icon John Lewis

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Officials in Nashville voted this week to rename a prominent city street after the late Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

The Council of Nashville and Davidson County made the decision in a voice vote on Thursday, naming a stretch of Fifth Avenue “Rep. John Lewis Way.”

Though Lewis is often associated with Atlanta, which he represented in Congress until his death from pancreatic cancer in July, Lewis’s civil rights activism also touched Nashville. 

Lewis attended college at Nashville’s American Baptist College and Fisk University, and it was where he first protested for civil rights. In February 1960, Lewis was arrested for a protest at a segregated lunch counter at Woolworth in Nashville. 

“That’s why we did this, because this is where he got his start. Nashville gave him his training in non-violent protest,” bill sponsor and council member Zulfat Suara told NBC News, which reported on the new street name. “We thought it was befitting, to honor him in this way.”

The change renames Fifth Avenue North between Commerce Street and Interstate 65 “Rep. John Lewis Way North,” while the southern portion of Fifth Avenue between Broadway and Oak Street will become “Rep. John Lewis Way South.”

NBC News notes that Fifth Avenue is home to both Woolworth and the bus station used by Freedom Riders. 

Tags civil rights John Lewis John Lewis Nashville Street Tennessee
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