Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star: Congresswoman introduces bill to rename city post office after renowned civil rights activist, teacher

FREDERICKSBURG FREE LANCE-STAR, KEITH EPPS

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger introduced a bill Thursday that would rename a Fredericksburg post office after a revered city teacher and civil rights activist.

If the bill becomes law, the College Station Post office at 1285 Emancipation Highway in Eagle Village would be renamed the “Gladys P. Todd Post Office.” Todd died in January 2015 at the age of 101, less than two months shy of her 102nd birthday.

“This Black History Month, I am honored to introduce legislation to rename the College Station Post Office after the remarkable Gladys P. Todd,” Spanberger said in a news release. “Her contributions to the local civil rights movement and her unwavering commitment to justice make Mrs. Todd an inspiration to us all, and naming a post office after her is a small way to honor the incredible woman she was.”

Gaye Adegbalola, Todd’s daughter, said she and her family are “surprised, humbled and honored” by Spanberger’s efforts.

“Just to have my mom’s name live on in this way has special meaning to me,” Adegbalola said. “She worked so hard for so long for so many people, and we are very humbled that Congresswoman Spanberger took the time to research this and make this recommendation.”

According to her obituary, Todd was baptized as a child at Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) and attended the Fredericksburg Colored School up to the age of 12. She later went to a boarding school at what was then known as Virginia State College in Ettrick, just outside of Petersburg.

She told people that witnessing a Ku Klux Klan parade as a child helped fuel her commitment to civil and human rights. She later became a primary coordinator of sit-ins at local lunch counters in the 1960s, which Adegbalola participated in as a teenager.

Todd was also active in city politics and was instrumental in organizing support that resulted in the election of Fredericksburg’s first Black mayor, Lawrence A. Davies. She also led a movement to establish a playground for Black children at what is now Hurkamp Park, and she set up a community center for Black youths on Winchester Street known as the “Youth Canteen.”

An academic program at Germanna Community College, the Gladys Todd Academy, is named in her honor.

Juno Pitchford, Todd’s grandson, said he knew as a small child that his grandmother was special. But it wasn’t until he was older that he became aware of how many lives she had touched and “how special she really was.”

Co-sponsoring Spanberger’s bill are fellow Virginia Democrat representatives Gerry Connolly, Jennifer McClellan, Bobby Scott and Jennifer Wexton.

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