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Confederate-themed neighborhood battling over street names

'Neighbors for Change' advocates for making neighborhood street names more inclusive by getting rid of names that represent a Virginia that no longer exists.

FAIRFAX, Va. — The war of words is underway in Fairfax County. A coalition of neighbors are pushing to see street names they find offensive and outdated changed to be more inclusive, while others say they are symbols of the area's history. 

Plantation Parkway. Antietam Avenue. Confederate Lane. These are just some of the names that have sparked a battle in the Mosby Woods community. Named after a Confederate army cavalry battalion Commander, John Mosby, the quiet neighborhood sits off the old Lee Highway, known today as Fairfax Boulevard. While some yards sport "Save Ranger Road" signs, other residents say they won't fight to save names that represent a Virginia that no longer exists. 

“It doesn't affect me, it's just the name of the road that I lived on for 20-plus years," said longtime Mosby Woods resident Gabe Stolle. "I can see how it may affect some people and you know I'm happy to change if it's affecting enough people, but it really doesn't bother me that much." 

Built in the early 1960s, at a time when African Americans were not allowed to live in this community, some neighbors say they never gave much thought to their street names.

“I bought a house on Confederate Lane because it was the house that was available," one woman who wished to stay anonymous said. "But honestly, I never thought about it until one day I went downtown to the theater. I was telling somebody my address, and everyone in the room was African American. And when I said I live at my address, they were like, 'Seriously?! Your street name is Confederate Lane?' I think that was the first time it hit me." 

She said that one interaction expanded her way of thinking. 

“It just made me more aware to be sensitive to why does this bother someone?" the woman noted. "And if it bothers them that much, what can we do to make a difference to make more people feel comfortable?” 

But the renaming of streets doesn’t bode well with everyone. Claire Fromme said she understands changing some names, but to rename the majority of the streets, in a neighborhood where people have lived for decades, is an unnecessary hassle.

“You're gonna have to change your addresses on everything, including your driver's license, any financial documents, any other mail that you're getting," Fromme said. "And I see that is potentially a lot of work for people." 

Jason Martinez,18, said he thinks the entire debate has gone too far and if there are some people who want certain names changed, he’s okay with it, but he doesn't want to see his neighborhood divided over the issue. 

“Part of it is that people are just taking it too serious in a way where they don't allow others to have an opinion," Martinez said. "And that's been harmful." 

The community is holding a public meeting to discuss the potential change in names on June 14. 

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