A revived push to rename Augusta’s John C. Calhoun Expressway gains momentum Tuesday.
Commissioner Bill Fennoy, who led an unsuccessful effort earlier this year to remove Calhoun’s name from the downtown flyover, put a request to rename it “Veterans Expressway” on a Tuesday committee agenda.
“Calhoun never lived in Augusta or even the state of Georgia. When a road or building is named after someone, it should be someone that’s honorable,” Fennoy said Monday. There’s nothing honorable about John C. Calhoun and what he stood for.”
The former vice president, secretary of state and U.S. senator from South Carolina died in 1850, before the Civil War. His legacy, well-documented in his writings, included ownership of dozens of slaves and the belief that slavery was good for society.
Fennoy called for a name change in February, then promised to bring the matter back “after the Masters” when the rest of the commission panned the suggestion in March. He joined the rest of the commission in voting down the name change 9-0 with one abstention.
Since then, violence in Charlottesville, Va., helped prompt an effort to remove or alter Augusta’s Confederate Monument, a 76-foot homage erected in 1877 to four Confederate generals and the region’s war dead. After an Aug. 12 protest, a committee associated with the Augusta branch of the NAACP said it will engage in a study of the monument’s history, but no further action has been taken regarding the monument.
The last time Fennoy asked to remove Calhoun’s name, he offered no specific suggestion for a new name. This time, Fennoy called to rename the road for the region’s generations of military personnel.
“With Augusta being a military town – we have Fort Gordon and two (Veterans Administration) hospitals and a large segment of our population is retired military people – I would think it’s only fitting and proper to honor the veterans by naming the expressway after them,” Fennoy said.
The commission’s five regular Tuesday committee meetings have not been rescheduled because of weather and are set to begin at commission chambers after an 11 a.m. legal session.
Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.