Friday, July 07, 2006

Renaming of Connector revived: famous slave or football star?

9th/10th Connector looking north from Cherry Ave and 9th SW

View from Korner Restaurant

"City man wants to rename street"
By John Yellig, Daily Progress staff writer, July 4, 2006

A Charlottesville man is renewing his campaign to have the Ninth-10th Street Connector renamed after Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Roosevelt “Rosie” Brown, a city native.

Brown was an offensive tackle for the New York Giants from 1953 to 1965 and played in the legendary 1958 National Football League championship against the Baltimore Colts. “The World’s Greatest Game,” which also included Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas, is largely credited with spurring football’s modern-day popularity.

John Gaines, a former president of the Charlottesville NAACP, first made his proposal in 1999 when others were calling to rename the road after Thomas Jefferson’s former slave and possible lover Sally Hemings and her family. He recently submitted a petition with 150 to 180 signatures to the City Council.

The 0.2-mile road, opened in 1998, connects 10th Street at West Main Street with Ninth Street at Cherry Avenue. It replaced Ninth Street as the primary passage across the CSX railroad tracks.

Brown, inducted into the hall of fame in 1975, attended the formerly all-black Jefferson School. He died in 2004.

Gaines recalled bragging to college friends that Brown was from “the ’Ville.”

“They were impressed,” he said.

Brown had a unique ability to “pull and lead” his opponents, something offensive tackles rarely do, according to the hall of fame.

Councilor Kevin Lynch said he’d support renaming the road after Brown or Hemings. The previous attempt to name the road after Hemings faltered in 1999 because local residents couldn’t reach a consensus on the controversial proposal.

“I think it’s time for us to come up with a name for that stretch of the road,” Lynch said. “I’m fine with Rosie Brown. I just think we should have at least a majority of the community that agrees.”

Lynch doesn’t support renaming 10th Street from West Main to Washington Park or Ninth Street from Cherry Avenue to Forest Hills Park because that would require changing the addresses of the houses along the street. There are no houses on the connector portion.

“That’s a lot of records that we have to go back and change,” he said. “Every resident would have to change their address. … It would be a fair amount of work.”

Gaines said he’s primarily interested in renaming the connector, although, he pointed out, Brown played at Washington Park while he attended Jefferson.

"Council delays Hemings street vote"
By Maria Sanminiatelli, Daily Progress staff write, June 20, 2000

Charlottesville's City Council postponed voting Monday on whether or not to name two city streets after the Hemings family or Sally Hemings herself, who was Thomas Jefferson's slave and likely mother of his children.

Mayor Virginia Daugherty said she decided to hold a vote at a later date--possibly at the end of the month--to have more time to study the wide response the council has received in the last few days from area residents.

"It has become a very controversial issue," Daugherty said. "We need to think of what people have said on both sides of the issue and we need more time."

The council also decided to wait because Councilor Blake Caravati could not attend Monday's meeting.

The proposal to name 10th Street and the Ninth-10th Street Connector after Sally Hemings or her family has been loudly criticized by some residents, including Agnes Cross-White, publisher of the Tribune, which caters to the area's black community.

Naming the street after Hemings, Cross-White and others says, would send the harmful message that the way to success and celebrity is to become the concubine of a white man.

Daugherty proposed naming the street for the Hemings family after the Fifeville Neighborhood Association asked that the connector honor Sally Hemings.



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