Robert E. Lee Road in Austin renamed after first black U.S. treasurer

Austin

Two Austin street names with Confederate ties will be renamed. 

The Austin City Council approved changing Robert E. Lee Road to Azie Morton Road and Jeff Davis Avenue to William Holland Avenue. 

The discussion to rename Robert E. Lee Road, which runs just south of Zilker Park, started last year. The street signs have been vandalized several times. 

The new street name honors former U.S. Treasurer Azie Taylor Morton. She was the first and only African-American to serve as the nation’s treasurer. Morton was also known for swimming in protest at a once-segregated Barton Springs.

“I am very happy that an African-American can be put on our street,” said Gilbert Ramos, who says the current name bothers him every day as he’s driving down Robert E. Lee Road.

“As a Mexican-American, I know that racism also took a toll on me and on my family, and I do appreciate that that name be taken down.”

Jeff Davis Avenue in central Austin has also been vandalized with red paint over the past year.

The street will be renamed to honor William H. Holland, a man who was originally born into slavery and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was also a member of the Travis County Commissioners Court. 

While many spoke in favor of the name changes during the public comment period of the city council meeting Thursday afternoon, some who live on Jeff Davis Avenue say they anticipate it will be a hassle for them.

Larry O’Connor, who has lived on Jeff Davis Avenue for nearly 30 years and owns multiple rental properties there, says he’s disappointed that even after a majority of neighbors surveyed said they didn’t want the name to be changed, council moved forward with the changes.

“I have to change all the leases, all my insurance policies, my driver’s license, my passport, my dog licenses, it goes on forever,” O’Connor said.

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