LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — It’s an issue that’s been debated for years in Lynchburg: changing the names of Fifth Street and Memorial Avenue.
The streets have the honorary designation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, but a push by some in the community could make that change official.
A recent community survey laid out four choices for the City Council:
- Do nothing and keep the current names with the honorary designation
- Rename either Fifth Street after Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Rename both Fifth Street and Memorial Avenue after Dr. King
- Rename Fifth Street after a prominent African-American Lynchburg citizen
“I just think it’s about time,” Tyeast Blanding said. “It should have been happened a long time ago.”
Blanding owns Nubian Citi, a salon on Fifth Street, and says she already refers to Fifth Street as Martin Luther King Boulevard.
“Fifth Street has always been the Mecca of Lynchburg, and I’m glad that they’re finally recognizing that.”
Her salon helps continue Fifth Street’s legacy as the historic business and entertainment center of Lynchburg’s Black community.
“Fifth Street used to have everything on here. This used to be a grocery store, used to be pharmacies, this used to be a doctor’s office. It used to also be a place where it was for people to safely travel during the green book era.”
NAACP president Carl Hutcherson was on the City Council when they gave the honorary name to Fifth Street and Memorial Avenue.
“We thought we were doing justice for both neighborhoods,” Hutcherson said.
His family once had a funeral home on Fifth Street, and he spent his childhood seeing movies and hanging out in soda shops along Fifth Street.
He would want the name change to include Memorial Avenue as well as Fifth Street, saying both corridors have historic significance.
“When Dr. King came, he spoke at E.C. Glass High School, which is on the Memorial side. When we dedicated the overlay, Martin III came, and we dedicated it on the Memorial Avenue Bridge side.”
The results of the renaming survey are set to be presented to the City Council in September.