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Student leads move to change name of Van Dorn Metro Station
By Russell Brooks
Why are heroes of the “Lost Cause” still being honored in Northern Virginia? Specifically, why should the Van Dorn Metro Station implicitly celebrate General Earl Van Dorn of the Confederate States of America? That question is being asked by Taylor Brigman, a Springfield resident and Spelman College sophomore.
Earl Van Dorn (September 17, 1820–May 7, 1863) was born near Port Gibson, Mississippi. He graduated from West Point and served in the U.S. Army until he decided to side with the Confederacy in the Civil War. He held the rank of major general and commanded the Trans-Mississippi District in the western theater. He was considered a notable cavalry officer, but his service ended when he was killed by a man who claimed Van Dorn was engaged in an affair with his wife.
Upon learning who the station is named after, Brigman started a petition to demand that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority change its name. “Our community must embody our core principles and pay tribute to those who have significantly and positively impacted society. Renaming the station would represent a symbolic stride toward inclusivity and the rightful recognition of deserving individuals,” says Brigman. You can sign the petition here.
As of mid-October 2023, the online petition has garnered about 160 signatures from local residents and continues to grow. Brigman is also seeking support from the Fairfax County NAACP, the Link Inc., and local alumni of Spelman and Morehouse colleges.
The Van Dorn station straddles the boundary between Fairfax County and Alexandria City. The station opened on June 15, 1991. Alexandria is the home of 41 streets named after Confederates, 20 of which were named after a 1953 city ordinance that required that streets running north to south be named after Confederate military heroes. Van Dorn Street was Lincolnia Road until 1953. According to Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, “Our predecessors used street naming policies as a form of permanent protest against the burgeoning civil rights movement and growing political power for African Americans. As a symbol, these honors persist today, honoring virulent racists, many of whom took up arms against our nation. These honors are not defensible and should be removed.”
Fairfax County also has numerous streets named after Confederates. The county changed the name of Lee Highway (now Rt. 29) and Lee-Jackson Highway (Rt. 50) in 2022, as well as renaming Robert E. Lee High School to John R. Lewis High School in 2020.
Alexandria City changed Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway/Route 1 in 2019 and will begin a process this year to rename its streets honoring the Confederacy by announcing three streets that will be renamed.
Taylor Brigman hopes Van Dorn street will be one of them. “In view of recent advancements in renaming streets and removing controversial monuments, I am confident that WMATA will also recognize the need to rename the Van Dorn Metro station to something that truly reflects a positive contribution to our society.”
Franconia Dems: FCDC’s 2023 District of the Year!
Hello, Franconia Dems!!!
Welcome to the newly renamed Franconia District!
After Supervisor Lusk led an extensive process that included a study of the district’s history and multiple opportunities for community input, Lee District was officially renamed Franconia District with a unanimous vote by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. To reflect this change, Lee District Dems is renamed Franconia District Dems, effective immediately.
You can read the news release here.
“I appreciate Supervisor Lusk’s thoughtful and collaborative process to arrive at this new name,” said Kathy Rhem, chair of the Franconia District Democratic Committee. “This change comes at a great time for our committee, as our officers and dedicated volunteers have been working hard to redouble our efforts to elect candidates truly committed to liberty and justice for all.”
Statement from FCDC Chair Bryan Graham
on the June 24 Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade
Our members’ top policy concerns
The high stakes for Virginia and the nation at large are driving Lee Dems, as affirmed by the membership poll taken in February and March. Debra Linick, co-vice chair for membership, said 41 people filled out the survey online, and a core group of volunteers spent long hours following up by phone.
Asked what motivates them to be Democrats, some said it’s been a lifelong commitment. Others are relative newcomers. More than one summed it up as “Trump’s election.” The environment topped a ranked list of concerns, followed immediately by preserving democracy and voting rights, and universal health care. Equality, workers’ rights and reproductive freedom were also among the many shared values.
As one member put it, “Republicans have a record of serving only the rich and Democrats have a record of investing in all of us.” —J.H.
To join the membership team or learn more, email co-vice chairs Debra Linick and Diego Scharifker at firstname.lastname@example.org.