Roanoke's Federal Courthouse Should Be Named After Civil Rights Icon, Not Lawmaker Who Fought Integration, Lawyer Says

An attorney is calling to rename Roanoke's federal building after Reuben E. Lawson, who helped to end school segregation throughout Southwest Virginia.

John P. Fishwick Jr., who served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia from 2015 to 2017 (left) and Rev. Edward Burton, a longtime pastor at Roanoke’s Sweet Union Baptist Church (right), called on federal lawmakers to support renaming the city's federal building and courthouse. PHOTO BY HENRI GENDREAU FOR THE ROANOKE RAMBLER

Roanoke’s federal courthouse downtown is named after a politician and judge who opposed racial integration and federal civil rights legislation.

The Richard H. Poff United States Courthouse and Federal Building, constructed in 1975, houses other government functions as well, including offices for the Department of Veteran Affairs and U.S. Marshals Service.

Instead of Poff, the federal building at 210 Franklin Road SW should be named for an overlooked attorney who fought for civil rights, a former federal prosecutor who worked in the building said Tuesday.