Roanoke City Council set to make final vote on renaming of Lee Plaza next week

City council voted on a resolution to rename the area either Henrietta Lacks Plaza or Freedom Plaza

Roanoke City Council is getting one step closer to renaming Lee Plaza in downtown.

ROANOKE, Va. – The City of Roanoke is now steps closer to changing the name of Lee Plaza, named after the Confederate leader, Robert E. Lee.

Roanoke City Council voted on a resolution to change the name of Lee Plaza to two names: Henrietta Lacks Plaza or Freedom Plaza. This change will come after months of surveying people in the community and discussion between city leaders.

During Monday afternoon’s Roanoke City Council meeting the city’s Equity and Empowerment Advisory Board made a recommendation of two name choices: Henrietta Lacks Plaza or Star City Plaza. But after additional discussion between council members, the name Freedom Plaza was thrown back in because of the war memorials already located in the plaza.

“So that was the reason I said let’s do part of its Freedom Plaza to honor those veterans and those wars and the other side Henrietta Lacks which is long long overdue,” said Roanoke’s Vice Mayor, Trish White-Boyd.

The other name comes from Henrietta Lacks whose cells were collected and used without her or her family’s permission for medical testing and experiments back in the 1950s, according to historians. Her cells known as HeLa cells are still used today to prevent doctors from having to experiment on humans. Lacks was also born in Roanoke.

City council is set to make a final vote on the resolution at Monday night’s meeting.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.