Austin City Council has unanimously approved the changing of two city streets named after Confederate figures, KUT-FM’s website’s Audrey McGlinchy reported Thursday. Robert E. Lee Road will be renamed Azie Morton Road in honor of the first African-American U.S. treasurer, who was also an Austin resident. Jeff Davis Avenue will be renamed for William Holland. Born into slavery, Holland later became a Travis County commissioner and played a crucial part in the establishment a local school for children of color with disabilities, which later became the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, according to McClinchy’s report.
City staff had earlier conducted a required poll, carried out by mail, of owners of property owners on or near the streets in question. According to McGlinchy, the majority of residents who returned the poll were opposed to the changes, but most did not sign up to voice their disapproval at the council meeting. Most who spoke did so in favor of the changes, she added.
The naming of Azie Morton Road is especially resonant, as it runs along land on the east side of Barton Springs Pool, one of the city’s most treasured sites. According to McGlinchy, Council Member Ann Kitchen mentioned before the vote that Morton took part in protests at the then-segregated pool as a young woman.
The decision on the name changes came far more decisively than did original moves to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary and other Austin Independent School District buildings named after Confederate figures. AISD did approve a change to Lee Elementary’s name in 2016 and to five more schools named after Confederate figures in February.
In 2017, the three remaining statues of Confederate figures at University of Texas campus were removed at the direction of UT president George Fenves, KUT reported at the time.