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Freedom Parkway set to be renamed for U.S. Rep. John Lewis

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Atlanta City Council seeks to permanently honor the civil rights icon

Freedom Parkway, one of Atlanta’s most recognizable thoroughfares, at night.
Freedom Parkway, one of Atlanta’s most recognizable thoroughfares, at night.
Curbed Atlanta

By Wednesday afternoon, Freedom Parkway will officially be adorned with a new name that honors one of Atlanta’s many civil rights-era icons.

The four-lane thoroughfare cutting through one of the city’s largest green spaces, Freedom Park, will be renamed “John Lewis Freedom Parkway,” in honor of the legendary Democratic representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District.

This change comes at the behest of Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens, who in March 2017 introduced legislation to create a municipal task force “to determine an appropriate manner in which to honor” Lewis, according to a city press release.

Lewis marching in Atlanta, 2014.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

“It was determine after public deliberation and input that Freedom Parkway should be renamed to honor the congressman and civil rights leader who has dedicated his life to fighting for the freedom and humanity of others,” the release continued.

A new street sign is scheduled to be unveiled at 1 p.m. Wednesday, at the corner of Freedom Parkway and Ponce de Leon Avenue—the north side of the to-be-renamed corridors, which also envelop the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.

In addition to Dickens and his council colleagues, Rep. Lewis and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms are expected to be in attendance during the renaming ceremony.

This immortalizing of Lewis is one of many changes—and not the only one with civil rights ties—going on in the Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, and Poncey-Highland neighborhoods through which Freedom Parkway runs.

In Old Fourth Ward, near the point where Freedom Parkway meets the Downtown Connector, Martin Luther King Jr.’s alma mater, Howard High School, is undergoing a $50 million revamp that’s turning the dilapidated building into a new middle school.

A few blocks west of that, a tiny park project has been proposed for Freedom Parkway’s most iconic photography spot, the Jackson Street Bridge.

Meanwhile, in Sweet Auburn, the $23.5 million Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation and Aquatic Center has reopened in the shadow of downtown.

And in Freedom Park itself, planners and community members are discussing how to best design a pedestrian bridge to help move walkers and cyclists over congested Moreland Avenue.