U.S. Army won’t remove Confederate street names in Brooklyn
General Lee Avenue and Robert E. Lee’s former home on Fort Hamilton, via Jeremy Bender/Business Insider
Despite a push from advocates and politicians, the United States Army decided to keep the names of two streets in Brooklyn that honor Confederate generals. The streets, General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Drive, can be found in Fort Hamilton, the city’s last remaining active military base. Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, along with U.S. Reps Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velazquez and Hakeem Jeffries, had written to the Army in June asking them to consider changing the street names. As the Daily News reported, the Army said the names will stay because they remain an “inextricable part of our military history.”
Both Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan (Stonewall) Jackson served at Fort Hamilton in the 1840s, almost two decades before they both became leaders of the Confederate Army in the Civil War. General Lee Avenue, which runs just half of a mile, was named by a former chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy since he served as their engineer before leaving to fight in the Mexican-American War. A plaque also marks the home where Lee lived from 1841-1846 and another sign sits next to a maple tree outside of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Congresswoman Clarke’s letter to the Army came weeks after the city of New Orleans decided to remove the many statues it displayed publicly that honored Confederate soldiers. However, because Fort Hamilton is a federal property operated by the Army, city and state laws do not affect it.
In their rejection letter to Clarke, the Army said renaming the streets at Fort Hamilton would be too contentious. “After over a century, any effort to rename memorializations on Fort Hamilton would be controversial and divisive,” Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Diane Randon wrote in a letter to Clarke. “This is contrary to the Nation’s original intent in naming these streets, which was the spirit of reconciliation.”
The Brooklyn Congresswoman said she’ll keep fighting the Army’s decision. “These monuments are deeply offensive to the hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn residents and members of the armed forces stationed at Fort Hamilton whose ancestors Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson fought to hold in slavery,” Clarke told the Daily News. She added, “For too many years, the United States has refused to reckon with that history.”
[Via NY Daily News]