South Street renaming to be taken up by Richmond City Council

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Richmond City Hall (Photo by Kathy Chouteau)

By Kathy Chouteau

Richmond City Council on Tuesday will consider renaming South Street between the streets of Carlson Blvd. and Wall St. to Ethel Dotson South.

The street renaming intends to “honor of Ms. Dotson’s contribution as an activist for social justice to the community, city and state,” according to the proposal by Councilmember Melvin Willis.

Ms. Dotson, who passed away in 2007, was a renowned Richmond activist who worked to improve social justice. She served on numerous local and state boards, including the Health and Human Services Board, Community for a Better Environment, as chair of the Contra Costa Public Authority Advisory Committee and as owner and manager of the historic International Hotel—to name a few.

Located at 396 South St. in Richmond, the International Hotel was a 20-room property built by A. Phillip Randolph that housed black Pullman porters, who at that time, weren’t permitted to stay at the Pullman Hotel during the layovers while the Pullman railcars were being serviced, per Richmond City Council documents.

The effort to honor Ms. Dotson via the street renaming originated with the Pullman Neighborhood Council to honor her activism and community impact in Richmond, particularly within the Pullman neighborhood.

At the Richmond Recreation and Parks Commission’s June 2 meeting, the commission recommended the renaming of South Street in Ms. Dotson’s honor at the request of the Pullman Neighborhood Council and following a presentation by council President and COA Commissioner Naomi Williams. From there, Commissioner Thompson recommended the item be presented to City Council for approval; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Smith and was met with a unanimous vote.