NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Council has approved a proposal to rename an extensive part of 5th Avenue in Nashville to Rep. John Lewis Way in honor of the late Congressman and civil rights leader.
Thursday night, Metro Council passed the final reading of the proposal. The name change will go into effect Jan. 1.
It’s official. 5th Avenue from Jefferson st. In the north to the Nashville city cemetery on the south side is now Rep. John Lewis Way. Grateful to the minority caucus, my colleagues & everyone that help made it happen. Kudos to my committee members. Stay stunned for information! https://t.co/VlfTe3jppy— Councilwoman Zulfat Suara (@zulfat4council) November 6, 2020
Fifth Avenue was chosen because of the location of the Woolworth building, where Lewis and other activists led the historic lunch counter sit-ins, which resulted in Nashville becoming the first southern city to begin desegregating public places. It is also a busy street used by locals and tourists alike.
At-large Metro Council Member Zulfat Suara said the change will not only honor Lewis, but recognize Nashville's role in the civil rights movement.
"He had training on non-violent demonstrations in Nashville, so I actually think Nashville gave him his start and his training he used to become the icon that we all love and respect,"said Suara.
Rep. Lewis began his lifelong crusade for civil rights while a student at American Baptist College, and later at Fisk University. In addition to being a leader in the historic lunch counter sit-ins, he represented Nashville as one of the 13 original “Freedom Riders.”
Lewis, who died back in July at the age of 80, served 17 terms in the House of Representatives, representing Georgia’s 5th congressional district since 1987.
Suara said discussions are underway about having some kind of celebration when the name change is official, however nothing is set yet.