The name “Jefferson Davis Highway” has recently been removed from U.S. 1 in parts of Northern Virginia, but it would disappear completely statewide if a bill that passed in the House of Delegates this week makes it all the way through the Virginia General Assembly.
The bill would impact all parts of U.S. 1 that are still labeled Jefferson Davis Highway, turning them into “Emancipation Highway,” referring to the 1863 order from President Abraham Lincoln stating that slaves in rebel states shall be “forever free.”
Most of U.S. Route 1 in Virginia was named for Jefferson Davis, who was president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865.
“Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederacy, a constant reminder of a white nationalist experiment and a racist Democrat,” said Del. Joshua Cole, D-Stafford. “Instead we can acknowledge the powerful act of the Emancipation Proclamation.”
The name change would not affect any stretch of U.S. 1 that has already been renamed.
Arlington and Prince William counties, as well as Alexandria, all changed the name in their jurisdictions to Richmond Highway in recent years.
It had already been called “Richmond Highway” in Fairfax County for decades.