Pittsylvania County leaders officially dedicated a bridge near Chatham in memory of a local civil rights leader Monday.
The bridge over U.S. 29 Business in Chatham — the only entrance from south of the town and called “a main thoroughfare for many” — is now officially dubbed the Clyde L. Banks Sr. Memorial Bridge.
Banks operated in the Travelers Inn in Chatham for four decades, a county news release reported. During the civil rights movements, the Chatham native helped African Americans find work, lobbied to get Black people hired as deputies for the sheriff’s office and fought to ingrate schools.
Being jailed following a sit-in Danville didn’t deter Banks from his civil rights mission. Active in the Pittsylvania County branch of the NAACP for many years, the Navy veteran also served as president.
“Mr. Clyde L. Banks Sr. was a very conscientious member of our community,” said Dr. Charles H. Miller, the Banister District representative on the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “He was a business man, a vocal civil rights leader, an advocate of equal pay for African-American teachers, a proponent for equal education.”
In January, supervisors approved a resolution to rename the bridge. The Commonwealth Transportation Board — the state agency that holds the power to rename infrastructure — OK’d the change a few months later.
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