If at first you don’t succeed…
Charlottesville City’s expedient, politically correct first attempt to rebrand Robert E. Lee Park was a bust.
In an effort to placate violent leftist dissidents, Charlottesville City Council, at their June 5, 2017 meeting, voted to rename the City’s Lee Park and Jackson Park with presumably less “offensive” designations. That night, in the eyes of the government, Lee Park became “Emancipation Park,” and Jackson Park became “Justice Park.”
While many people continued to refer to the parks by their original names, other members of the public were not mollified by the Council’s re-envisioning or even the process by which the new monikers were selected.
Appearing before the governing body on October 17, 2017, activist, Mary Carey, excoriated City Council for the re-naming bungle, claiming that the name “Emancipation Park” was “disrespectful and thoughtless,” showing a “lack of care for people of color.”
Carey, backed by the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP—and hundreds of petition signatures—demanded a do-over for Emancipation Park, which eventually was granted (along with a potential re-renaming of “Justice” Park, as well) by the City.
While the City-sponsored March 6, 2018 renaming-survey warned in advance that the names “Lee Park” and “Jackson Park” would not be considered, that did not stop a plurality of respondents (24%; 1822 votes) from writing-in “Lee Park” in the survey’s “other” field.
Following Lee Park, the next most popular names were the banal, Soviet-esque “Market Street Park” (22%; 1647 votes) and the more poignant “Vinegar Hill Park” (17%; 1266 votes), both of which appeared on the government-approved, pre-selected list of choices. Due to the construction of the survey, respondents were allowed to designate up to three pre-selected names (in order of preference) , while only one write-in “vote” was allowed per ballot.
(Information provided by the City on the renaming of Jackson Park was incomplete, and thus was not included in this report.)
UPDATE 4/6/2018, 10:27 AM: The Charlottesville Daily Progress has coverage of this story but has completely omitted referencing the 1822 write-in votes for Lee, as if they never were cast.
See below for a chart displaying the top results for the re-renaming of Lee Park (click for larger image):