Remembering Fred Alexander

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - More signs that Charlotte is a city that's honoring its past and those who had a voice in shaping our community.

On Tuesday, the ribbon was officially cut for a new road that honors the legacy of a late politician.

When Fred Alexander was elected to the Charlotte City Council back in 1965 it was a very big deal.

He would break barriers and chart new ground by being the first African American to take office.

On the surface, Fred D. Alexander Boulevard connects Freedom Drive to Brookshire Boulevard, but there was nothing surface about Fred Alexander.

So much of his work was rooted in substance.

Trail blazer, pioneer, and civil rights advocate are the words that can be used to describe him.

He first served during  Stan Brookshire's watch as Charlotte's mayor.

Over the last 13 years, council member James Mitchell has seen the new road from concept to completion.

"He paved the way for a lot of us to serve. I think it's a great testimony to his leadership," Mitchell said.

The two mile stretch links Mitchell's district two to District Three which is represented by Lawana Mayfield,

She also acknowledged his many deeds by saying "I want to thank his family members."

His family members were not only grateful, but also reflective.

Margaret Alexander was his sister in law. She was married to NAACP power broker Kelly Alexander Sr.

In the 1965 both sets of Alexanders and other Charlotte civil rights figures survived a series of late night bombings at their homes that remain unsolved.

She said, "We're always appreciative of what anyone does to recognize the family members because they worked real hard while they were here, and often time's people forget you after you're gone."

Three years later after being elected, Alexander would lead a peaceful march through the streets of Charlotte, after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.

One defining moment in his life came when Alexander supervised the barriers of segregation when the fence was taken down at Pinewood and Elmwood cemeteries.

Mrs. Alexander feels that the new road can teach lessons that go beyond history and offer a sense of community.

"The kids that are coming along now, hopefully they will know something about the people that paved the way.

The price tag on that new road is 49 million dollars, and city officials are beaming that the project came in under budget.

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