AUSTIN (KXAN) — Robert E. Lee Road could be renamed to honor a former U.S. Treasurer from Austin.
Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen says she has officially filed an application with the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) to rename the street to Azie Taylor Morton. Morton, a black woman born near Lockhart in 1936, has been the only African-American to serve as U.S. Treasurer.
Morton graduated from Huston-Tillotson College in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree in commercial education. During her career, Morton worked as an educator in Austin before she moved to Washington to work for the federal government. She served as the treasurer from 1977 to 1981 in Jimmy Carter’s administration. Morton moved back to Austin after her stint in D.C. She died in 2003.
“After reviewing ideas brought forward by our community, and after discussions with several neighbors and community members, I am proposing this change because I believe the City should consider honoring a strong woman with roots in our local community who dedicated her life to civil service,” Kitchen wrote in a news release. “Changing this street name is an important step for healing our community given the injustices of the past. While history itself will never change, nor do we forget the lessons of our history, we must ensure that those we memorialize reflect and honor our own values.”
Renaming Robert E. Lee Road is expected to take several months since numerous groups have to sign off on the process. Once the reviews are completed, the item will be placed on a city council agenda for a public hearing and discussion, and subsequent passage of an ordinance changing the street name.
Some council members are already in support of the new name.
“Azie was an amazing woman,” City Council Member Ora Houston said. “Making this change will give us all the opportunity to learn about and share the accomplishments of one of the many local Americans of African descent who have made great contributions to our community and our nation.”
In August, multiple signs for Robert E. Lee Road were vandalized with red spray paint, which renewed discussions to change the name. A Jeff Davis Avenue sign was also vandalized at the end of August, prompting Austin City Councilmember Leslie Pool to say she intends to file a name change request.