LEXINGTON, Va. – After weeks of conversation, the Lexington City Council voted Thursday night to change the name of a cemetery named after a Confederate general.
Effective immediately, Stonewall Jackson Cemetery has been renamed Oak Grove Cemetery.
The decision was made on a unanimous vote. Council chose the name in mid-August. Thursday’s vote adopted a new ordinance that allows these changes.
“That area of Lexington probably in the 1700s was a grove of Oak Grove,” said Mayor Frank Friedman. “We’re somewhat going old school to the origins of that land.”
The Presbyterian church handed control of the cemetery to the city in the late 1940s.
Not everyone is happy with the change. A petition in opposition of the name change garnered nearly 7,000 signatures. The organizer also sent a letter to the mayor and city council.
City leaders held a public hearing before the vote.
“For some folks it is a tough pill to swallow. It’s been part of their fabric off of their lives. For others, it is an incredible liberation and an acknowledgement of greater parity for the races,” said Friedman.
Another cemetery in the city will soon get some much-needed attention.
The predominantly Black cemetery, according to the Mayor, is need of some revitalization. No word yet on the timetable of this work.
Signage and other materials will soon change on the property. Mayor Friedman said city staff will begin that work immediately.
While the name has changed, those buried there have not, and Jackson’s statue will remain as it is part of his private burial.