breaking news

Former President George H.W. Bush taken to Maine hospital

Kitchen calls to name Robert E. Lee Road for only black U.S. treasurer


Highlights

Azie Taylor Morton served as U.S. treasurer under President Jimmy Carter.

Changing the name of Robert E. Lee Road “is an important step for healing our community,” Ann Kitchen said.

Push to rename road came after last month’s violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

A month after calling for a name change of Robert E. Lee Road, City Council Member Ann Kitchen has proposed a replacement name: Azie Taylor Morton.

Morton, who died in 2003, moved to Austin as a teenager in the 1940s and later became the first and only African American to serve as U.S. treasurer. Originally from Dale, near Lockhart, she came here to attend what was then the Texas Blind, Deaf and Orphan School, which sponsored black children, because no schools in her hometown did, Kitchen said in a news release.

Morton later graduated cum laude from Huston-Tillotson College, worked for the Texas AFL-CIO and became known as a local civil rights activist. She was known for often swimming in Barton Springs Pool in defiance of the segregationist policies of the time.

After serving as treasurer under President Jimmy Carter, Morton returned to Austin, worked extensively with Huston-Tillotson and served on the Austin Housing Authority board.

“The City should consider honoring a strong woman with roots in our local community, who dedicated her life to civil service,” Kitchen said in the news release. “Changing this street name is an important step for healing our community, given the injustices of the past.”

RELATED: After Charlottesville, Austin’s Confederate monuments get a second look

Kitchen filed the application for a name change Wednesday with the Austin Transportation Department, she said. That will begin a multi-month process of studying a potential road name change, including its impact on residents and public safety.

Robert E. Lee Road runs alongside Zilker Park, in Kitchen’s South Austin district. Council Member Leslie Pool has proposed renaming Jeff Davis Avenue, in Brentwood, in her district. Their push for the renamings came after a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. last month colored conversations regarding Confederate memorials nationwide.

A similar push led the Austin school board to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School in May 2016 after a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. That mass killing also helped prompt the University of Texas to remove a bronze statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the Main Mall. After the Charlottesville incident, UT relocated four other statues with Confederate ties.

VISIT VOTETRACKER: See how your Austin City Council member voted on key issues

Residents who live along Robert E. Lee Road had mixed opinions about whether they’d support a name change or consider it a hassle. Both Kitchen and Pool said they’d look for community input on names, so it’s unclear whether Kitchen’s proposal will be the final one for a new name.

Pool has suggested renaming Jeff Davis Avenue for abolitionist Sojourner Truth and Robert E. Lee Road for William DeWayne Jones, a park police officer shot and killed near Zilker Park in 2000. Others have suggested Robert E. Lee Road be named for Charles Umlauf, namesake of the sculpture garden that is on the road, or for Robert Plant, the former Austin resident who fronted Led Zeppelin.

But the application process doesn’t allow for consideration of different names, so Azie Taylor Morton will be the only one on the table for Robert E. Lee Road, transportation spokeswoman Marissa Monroy said. A request for a different name would have to be submitted as a separate application, beginning a separate multi-month review process.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

George H.W. Bush taken to Maine hospital
George H.W. Bush taken to Maine hospital

Former President George H.W. Bush has been hospitalized after “experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue,” spokesman Jim McGrath said in a Twitter post Sunday afternoon. Bush, who was last hospitalized in April because of a blood infection, was taken to Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford, Maine. “He will likely remain there...
Round Rock police searching for suspect in attempted assault
Round Rock police searching for suspect in attempted assault

12:45 p.m. update: Round Rock police released a description of a suspect in an early Sunday attempted assault. “The suspect is described a Hispanic male in his mid-20s to early 30s, approximately 5’7” to 5’10”, with short black hair and soul patch facial hair,” a Round Rock city spokesman said in an email. &ldquo...
OVERNIGHT: Man hospitalized after North Austin stabbing, EMS says
OVERNIGHT: Man hospitalized after North Austin stabbing, EMS says

A man in his 30s was injured early Sunday after a stabbing in North Austin, officials said. Austin-Travis County EMS and Austin police responded to reports of stabbing at Rutland Drive and N. Lamar Blvd. shortly after midnight. Medics took the victim to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious, not expected to be life-threatening injuries. No other patients...
FORECAST: Temps to hit 99 Sunday; 104 heat index expected
FORECAST: Temps to hit 99 Sunday; 104 heat index expected

Sunday forecast for Austin: It’s going to be hot. Temperatures will reach a high of 99 Sunday, with a heat index of 104 also expected. East southeast winds moving 5 mph are also in the forecast. Skies will be mostly clear Sunday night, with a low of 75 and east southeast winds moving 5 mph. The heat index for each afternoon this week will top...
Austin Muslim community, leaders break fast at citywide iftar
Austin Muslim community, leaders break fast at citywide iftar

Community leaders and members of Austin’s Muslim community gathered Saturday evening to “break the fast” at the third annual Austin City Wide Iftar. The event, hosted by the Austin Muslim Civic Ambassadors at the Asian American Resource Center, aims to “bridge the gap between local elected officials and Austin’s Muslim...
More Stories