Charlottesville Pays Tribute to Two Men with Honorary Street Namings
Two Charlottesville streets have new names Wednesday. Avon Street and 5th Street Southwest will now keep the memories of George Ferguson and Franklin Delano Gibson alive.
Ceremonies were held in front of Gibson's Grocery and Tonsler Park Wednesday. Crowds of people that knew Gibson and Ferguson gathered at the locations to see the unveiling of the new signs.
Longtime shoppers of Gibson's Grocery store say the store is like a melting pot, a place where anybody is welcome. Shalanda Green has been shopping at Gibson's store since she was a child.
"He was like, 'Hand me the paper, do you know what your mama sent you up here for?' and I said ‘No.' and he said, "Well you wait right here and I'll go get it for you.'"
The store is alongside Avon Street - now also known as Franklin Delano Gibson Street. Gibson's son, Chris, runs the shop now, and tries to keep his father's traditions alive.
"I think it is still the same in many ways," Chris said. "I think it's a melting pot. I think that anyone can walk through the doors and everyone's welcome and everyone's treated the same."
At Tonsler Park, friends and family of George Ferguson came together for to celebrate the new sign.
"As generations pass often history is lost and this is a way to memorialize that history," said Bandele Ferguson McQueen, George's grandson.
Ferguson was part of the Charlottesville civil rights campaign and helped create integration at University of Virginia's hospital.
Evelyn Mason met Ferguson when she was a child and submitted the request to Charlottesville City Council that he be honored with a sign. She says she couldn't be happier council members approved the idea.
"They ought to honor some of the pioneers that worked, you know, real hard to keep this community together," Mason said.
You may have noticed that Gibson's name is spelled wrong on the sign, but the city says they will have a new one up by late Thursday.
Now right now there is only one sign on each street, but once all the signs come in, there will be four on 5th Street Southwest and five on Avon Street.
For those who live along these streets, their addresses will not change. Instead, the signs serve as a reminder to keep the past alive.