Street honoring Confederate president renamed in Alabama capital

Street honoring Confederate president renamed in Alabama capital
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The capital of Alabama has renamed a street honoring the former president of the Confederacy to instead recognize a Black civil rights lawyer, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

The Montgomery City Council unanimously voted to approve renaming Jeff Davis Avenue to Fred D. Gray Avenue on Tuesday.

Alabama Mayor Steven Reed had started the process to rename the street in December.

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“When I think of heroes who exemplify the best in our city, [Gray] is certainly at the forefront of that,” Reed, who was elected as the first Black mayor in the city’s 200-year history, said when he proposed the change, according to the AP.

Gray, who grew up on Jeff Davis Avenue, served as the attorney to Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks, along with other well-known civil rights figures, including Martin Luther King Jr. and E.D. Nixon.

Reed officially proposed the change on Rosa Parks Day, Dec. 1, the 65th anniversary of the day she was charged with refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in downtown Montgomery.

It was her actions that not only sparked the Montgomery bus boycott but also led to reform and desegregation of bus lines in the city.

The city's proposed change, however, could lead to a $25,000 fine under the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 which does not allow for the removal or renaming of Confederate monuments that have been standing on public property for more than 40 years. 

Alabama Gov. Kay IveyKay IveyTrump seeking to oust Republican Alabama governor over canceled rally: report Alabama governor orders state agencies to fight federal vaccine mandates Alabama using COVID funds to build new prisons — is that Biden's vision? MORE (R) said in 2018 that "we can't and shouldn't even try to charge or erase or tear down our history,” she said, according to AL.com. “We must learn from our history.”

Ivey also criticized “special interest groups” calling for the statues to be removed. 

Gray, 90, still practices law in Tuskegee, and is currently the attorney fighting on behalf of residents to remove a Confederate monument from that city. 

“This is a project of the mayor’s,” he said to the Montgomery Advertiser. “He expressed it to me. I was very happy about it. And I am very happy about it.”