Grant Park resident Connie Hillsman lives along a confusing stretch of Confederate Avenue where the mail always seems to get lost, and the deliveries – like the television she ordered – routinely end up going to somebody else’s house.
But what bothered her even more than that, she says, was the name of the street itself.
Confederate Avenue – an unrepentant homage to a less enlightened time in Atlanta’s history.
For Hillsman, the street signs were a stark visual reminder to the thousands of people who use the corridor every day, that old times here are not forgotten.
She especially worried about the street sign’s effect on the neighborhood children.
“Because of everything that is going on now, they don’t know what to think,” said Hillsman. “I want them to know that they can be comfortable in their own homes and not worry about the name of a street.”
Soon, the children will not have to worry about that at all.
With the stroke of a pen Wednesday, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ushered in a new chapter in Atlanta history, signing into law a bill that would change the name of Confederate Avenue to Unity Avenue. East Confederate Avenue and Confederate Court will be renamed Trestletree Court.
“It is my honor to authorize a change that puts the division of the past behind us and moves us forward in the spirit of a united Atlanta,” said Mayor Bottoms at the signing ceremony. “It definitely reaffirms our better nature in a very visible way. And so, in Atlanta, we know that we remain a city that embraces all. And it is most important that our landmarks reflect who we are.”
The bill to change the name of Confederate Avenue was sponsored by District 1 City Councilwoman Carla Smith.
“I want to thank each and every one of you who poured your soul into this very significant undertaking,” said Councilwoman Smith. “Your commitment to this effort will never be forgotten. This is why I became a councilmember. I continue to be in awe of the legislative process that makes change for good.”
Among those in the crowd at the signing ceremony was Connie Hillsman.
“I want all the children – black and white – all the children to know that we are a united community and a united country,” she said after joining her neighbors in a rousing ovation after the Mayor signed the measure into law.
An advisory committee established last year recommended the name change. While the name change is official immediately, it will not be effective until January 21, 2018 – the day of the Martin Luther King Jr holiday.