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Washington Avenue in Waco set to be renamed after previous commissioner

Lester Gibson retired from his position as commissioner in Waco in 2018 , and later passed away this past June. Today, colleagues want to rename a street after him.

WACO, Texas — Members on the Waco Commission voted to recommend the renaming of Washington Avenue on Tuesday to remember Lester Gibson.

They want a portion of it, from University Parks Drive to 6th St. to be named Lester Gibson Way. The last step is to have City Council approve the renaming later in September.

Lester Gibson retired from his position as commissioner in 2018, and later died this past June.

Since then, Gibson's former colleague, now commissioner, Patricia Miller, and her colleagues have made sure to keep his legacy alive.

"I wanted to make sure those voices didn't get left on the side lines – they didn't get dropped just because he was retiring," Miller said.

The voices she talks about are the minorities in Waco. She remembers how Gibson was a trailblazer in the civil rights movement in Waco.

He advocated for those who did not have a platform to speak.

Gibson even worked to make sure both sides of history were always seen. Like with the painting that hangs in the Waco Court House. 

There, a noose is painted, hanging from a tree between City Hall and the Court House. 

Lester Gibson is the one who set out to create a resolution that recognizes the lynching that occurred in Waco. After fighting tooth and nail, he had the resolution passed.

Credit: Meredith Haas
The resolution that Lester Gibson had installed to recognize lynching occurred in Waco, TX.

Now, a plaque, with his and his colleagues name sit in front of the painting for all to see.

Miller said this is his legacy, fighting to make sure both sides of history are seen and heard.

"What he was saying is – if we're going to put this up historically correct – we do have to address there's a hanging noose there," Miller added.

In order to continue his legacy, she said the renaming of Washington Avenue would shed light on two sides of history. One being the bridge, where Lester Gibson Way would begin, and where lynching used to take place, the other being his legacy.

She added that the goal is for everyone to remember and think of Gibson's legacy, but not forget what people went through in the same place.

"It kind of redefines what we know now about that bridge," Miller said. 

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