Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) wants to get rid of a Brooklyn street named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
In a statement sent to Business Insider on Tuesday, Jeffries said he hopes officials can rename “General Lee Avenue” after a more “appropriate” person.
The street is located in New York City’s only US military base, Fort Hamilton, where Lee briefly spent time before he left the US Army.
“Brooklyn is one of the most diverse counties in America, with sizable communities of colour. There is no good reason for a street to be named after an individual who led the Confederate Army in the fight to keep slavery and racial subjugation alive in America,” Jeffries said. “It is my hope that we will do the right thing and find an appropriate local hero for whom the street can be renamed.”
Jeffries, who is widely considered a rising star in New York City’s congressional delegation and potential 2017 mayoral candidate, is the first local official to speak out against the street since Business Insider highlighted it on Monday. He represents a Brooklyn district that is adjacent to the one that includes the base. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-New York), who represents
Rep. Dan Donovan (R-New York), who represents the district where Fort Hamilton is located, has not responded to a request for comment about General Lee Avenue. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) also has not responded to questions about the street.
The June 17 shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina has reignited a national debate about the Confederate flag and other symbols of the Civil War era southern secession. Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston shooter, has been linked to a website that included a racist manifesto and Confederate imagery. The shooting left nine people dead.
General Lee Avenue is about one half mile long. It is the central street on Fort Hamilton. Fort Hamilton isn’t the only military base that honours Confederate leaders. There are at least 10 bases where the entire facility is named for a general from the losing side in the US Civil War.
Business Insider reached out to Fort Hamilton on Monday. A spokesperson for the base declined to comment on whether they have received complaints about the name of General Lee Avenue. The spokesperson also noted that the base is landmarked federal property, which means it is outside of local jurisdiction.