Alabama capital removes Confederate President’s name from the road

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) – The first capital of Confederacy has renamed a street in honor of the Confederate President to instead recognize a black civil rights lawyer, despite an Alabama law intended to protect monuments and rebel memorials.

Montgomery City Council voted Tuesday night to rename Jeff Davis Avenue to attorney Fred D. Gray, who grew up on the streets during the Jim Crow era and went on to represent clients such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

“When I think of the heroes who embody the best in our city, (Gray) is definitely at the forefront of that,” said Mayor Steven Reed, the city’s first black mayor. He originally proposed the change in December.

Unanimous city council approval could result in a fine of $ 25,000 under a state law passed in 2017 to prevent the removal or alteration of Confederate monuments, which have been disputed and demolished in the south, but Reed told news outlets donors had already offered to pay the penalty for the town, where delegates voted to form Confederation in 1861.

Gray, 90, still practices law in Tuskegee, located east of Montgomery. He told the Montgomery Advertiser that the city had kept him informed.

“It is a project of the mayor,” he said. “He expressed it to me. I was very happy with it. And I’m very happy with it. “

Gray was a young lawyer when Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955 in defiance of the city’s segregation laws. He represented both her and King, then a young pastor who led the year-long bus boycott that followed.

Gray is currently representing the residents of Tuskegee in a lawsuit to remove a Confederate monument from a public square in the almost all-black city.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office did not immediately return a message asking if the state would attempt to collect a fine from the city for renaming the street. The state was recently fined $ 25,000 after prosecuting officials in Huntsville, where the county last year removed a Confederate memorial outside the county courthouse.

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