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City Council moves to rename Preston Avenue, honor legacy of African-American educator

The avenue will be renamed after African-American educator and activist Asalie Minor Preston who taught in Albemarle County

<p>The green street sign on Preston Avenue will not need to be modified since Minor Preston and Thomas L. Preston share the same last name.</p>

The green street sign on Preston Avenue will not need to be modified since Minor Preston and Thomas L. Preston share the same last name.

At the City Council meeting Monday night, members of the Council unanimously moved to rename Preston Avenue after Asalie Minor Preston — an African-American woman who taught in Albemarle County Public Schools during the era of segregation and namesake of the Minor-Preston Educational Fund — instead of its previous namesake Thomas L. Preston. 

Thomas L. Preston was an alumnus, a former rector of the University during the 1864-1865 school year, a slave owner, a segregationist and a prominent Confederate leader. 

The Rives C. Minor and Asalie M. Preston Educational Fund was established over three decades ago to honor the legacy of the father-daughter duo who both taught in segregated public schools in Albemarle County. Both Minor and Preston taught in Albemarle County for over a combined eight decades. 

The Minor-Preston Educational Fund offers scholarships to students from the Albemarle County Public Schools and was started with much of Minor Preston’s estate.The Fund has so far supported over 1,000 Charlottesville and Albemarle County public school graduates with the cost of their college education. The approximate amount of scholarship awarded by the fund since 1983 is $3 million. 

City Council member Wes Bellamy had previously expressed misgivings about the namesake of one of Charlottesville’s prominent roads at a City Council meeting Dec. 17 last year. 

“We’ve discussed, as I brought up a couple of Council Meetings ago, the desire to change the name of Preston Avenue as it’s currently constructed... “ Bellamy said. “[Thomas L. Preston] enslaved 29 individuals on his plantation. They were all located at the intersection of Preston Place and Grady Avenue.”

As both Minor Preston and Preston share the same last name, the green street sign on Preston Avenue will not need to be modified. The brown honorary designation sign underneath the street sign is all that will be changed. The project will cost approximately $3,265. Additionally, Bellamy and City Council member Mike Signer brought up the possibility of naming currently unnamed entities in Charlottesville, such as the City Hall, after other historical local activists. This issue will be discussed at future City Council meetings.

“Can we name those structures after those who have fought for equity, for social justice, who have put in the work and are local members from our community?” said Bellamy.

The motion — created by Bellamy and seconded by City Council member Kathy Galvin — received support from all members of the Council. 

“I think as a community as we’re looking to move past honoring those that were Confederate heros and the like,” Bellamy said. “Honoring someone like Ms. Azalea Minor Preston will bode well for us.”