Fayetteville City Council Approves Renaming Street After Nolan Richardson

The initiative aims to honor the legacy of the former Razorback basketball coach.

Coach Nolan Richardson poses outside of a campus building in his younger days.
Photo courtesy of UA Black Alumni Society

Leroy Pond Drive will be renamed Nolan Richardson Drive after the Fayetteville City Council approved a resolution for the name change during last night’s meeting. Councilman D’Andre Jones presented the resolution, which was brought to him by the University of Arkansas Black Alumni Society. 

Richardson led the UA men’s basketball team to its only national championship in 1994. Fayetteville profited from Richardson’s success, BAS vice president Synetra Hughes said, so renaming the road after him is the least the city can do to honor his legacy and celebrate all he’s done.

“It’s going to be a huge step in the right direction to right a lot of the wrongs that the city of Fayetteville has committed against the Black and Brown communities in Fayetteville,” Hughes said.

UA alum Randy Coleman also spoke in favor of the resolution and urged the city council to be “on the right side of history and not the wrong side of equality.”

“With respect to the distinguished service of Leroy Pond, coach Richardson needs a public display of a street sign and a statue in front of the facilities that he helped create just like the other retired national championship coaches who ironically are white,” Coleman said. 

Pond was a Fayetteville native who graduated from the U of A in 1938. He joined the Army, rose to the rank of captain and led a rifle company on D-Day. He was wounded in Germany in December 1944 and died from his injuries the following month.

The original resolution planned to continue honoring Pond by renaming nearby Meadow Street after him. However, the road is under the university’s jurisdiction, not the city’s. 

An amendment introduced at last night’s meeting called for Government Avenue, the road leading into Fayetteville National Cemetery, to be renamed Lt. Col. Leroy Pond Avenue instead. Honoring Pond at the cemetery will say a lot about the veteran and enlighten people to the kind of hero he was, city attorney Kit Williams said.

“That’s a much better street, much more honorable for Leroy Pond and I think we owe him that honor,” Williams said.

The city council unanimously approved the amended resolution. The decision comes as the men’s Razorback basketball team prepares for the NCAA tournament. The Hogs have earned the No. 3 seed in the South Region and they’ll play Colgate, the region’s No. 14 seed, Friday. 

Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is an Arkansas-based journalist. She has covered race, culture, politics, health, education and the arts for NPR affiliates as well as print and digital publications since 2007.