Nashville officially renames 5th Avenue, Rep. John Lewis Way

John Lewis Way
Posted at 4:55 PM, Jul 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-18 02:48:01-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On the one year mark of Rep. John Lewis's death, Nashville held a ceremony to honor the late civil rights pioneer.

5th Avenue from Jefferson Street to I-40 has officially been renamed Rep. John Lewis Way. Lewis lived in Nashville back in the 1960s while studying at American Baptist College. As a student, he participated in the landmark lunch counter sit-ins that eventually resulted in Nashville being one of the first southern cities to integrate lunch counters.

Lewis's mentor, Rev. James Lawson, spoke at the dedication ceremony calling on others to continue Lewis's important work when it comes to non-violent demonstrations. "The non-violent way is the way the power of compassion and truth can shape every community, every congregation, every union, every political group," Rev. Lawson told the crowd.

After the street dedication ceremony, dozens of people marched along Rep. John Lewis Way, up the hill, past Woolworth's and other former lunch counter locations that now bear his name on their address.

"I don’t feel like I’m a part of history, I feel like I’m honoring history," said Benita Varnado, a participant in the march. "Lest we forget. It’s so important to remember and acknowledge."

The march ended at the Mother Church of Country Music -- the Ryman Auditorium. There, dozens of big names eulogized and performed music in honor of Rep. Lewis.

For more on the effort to rename Rep. John Lewis Way, click here.