A Neighborly Civil War in Virginia over Street NamesBreaking News
tags: Civil War, Confederacy, Virginia, public history
On the corner of Confederate Lane and Plantation Parkway in the Civil War-themed housing development of Mosby Woods, a “Black Lives Matter” lawn sign faces the two street markers.
A few blocks away in the same Northern Virginia development, other signs urge neighbors to “Save Ranger Rd!!” while cars bear parking permits with the neighborhood’s logo: a Confederate Raider on horseback charging into battle with saber raised.
Mosby Woods, a quiet cluster of 523 homes in Fairfax City built in the mid-20th century, is a community that has grown divided over its identity as the City Council considers renaming its Confederate-named streets.
For decades, street names that reflected Virginia’s Confederate past were a sometimes awkward fact of life for the neighborhood’s residents, in line with the surrounding landscape of Civil War battleground sites and historical markers, monuments and highways honoring Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
That changed with the murder of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer in 2020, which unleashed a reckoning over systemic racism in the country that, in turn, ignited a backlash against perceived anti-White sentiments that has filled social media feeds and fueled a culture war over race and ethnicity.
Now, the increasingly diverse neighborhood named after Confederate army battalion commander John S. Mosby that is otherwise a typical suburban enclave — with summer block parties and holiday decoration contests — is another battleground, with the City Council set to decide in June whether nine streets in Mosby Woods should be called something else.
Residents say their community is straining under the weight of the topic, noting that some neighbors are no longer friendly to one another as they walk their dogs past Reb Street or shuttle their kids to school along Blue Coat Drive.
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