With Virginia in the national spotlight over race and reconciliation, Richmond City Council voted on Monday to rename Boulevard after African American tennis star, AIDS activist and Richmond native Arthur Ashe.
The council voted in favor of the proposal 8-0-1, with 8th District council member Reva Trammell abstaining. The City Council heard from more than three dozen supporters of the name change, including family and friends of Ashe.
Jolynn Johnson Smith, the granddaughter of one of Ashe’s coaches, Robert W. Johnson, said she thought the time was right for this change given the recent revelations that Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring appeared in blackface in 1980s.
“Ashe was a humanitarian, a professional, and someone who believed in doing the right thing,” Smith said. “At this time in our history, when we still are honoring the Confederate soldiers on Monument Avenue, I would implore you to do the right thing and give Arthur Ashe his due.”
That sentiment was echoed by 2nd District council member Kim Gray, who sponsored the bill.