Voters Nix ‘Martin Luther King Jr’ As Name For Historic Boulevard

Back in January, the city council in Kansas City voted to change the name of a major road to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. without properly conferring with residents of the city.

On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly rejected the council’s decision.

Nearly 70 percent of those casting ballots voted to remove King’s name from a historic boulevard and return its century-old name.
The boulevard, which runs 10 miles in the center of the city, has long been known as The Paseo. “The parkway holds 223 acres (0.90 km2) of boulevard parkland dotted with several Beaux-Arts-style decorative structures and architectural details maintained by the city’s Parks and Recreation department,” says its entry on Wikipedia.
Interesting points along the wide road include “Bird Lives,” a statue honoring Charlie “Bird” Parker, a jazz saxophone player; the Dr. Generous Henderson House; an unusual stoplight made of cut-stone; and Scottish Rite Temple, a “monumental Beaux-Arts/Egyptian Revival civic auditorium.” A stretch of the boulevard has been put on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The name for Kansas City’s first major boulevard was suggested by the first President of the Parks Board, August R. Meyer (1851-1905), based on the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City,” Wikipedia says. That road is a wide boulevard that runs diagonally across the center of Mexico City.
Ten months ago, the city council voted 8-4 to change the name to honor the iconic civil rights leader. A movement quickly emerged called “Save The Paseo,” which gathered nearly 3,000 signatures to put the name of the road in the control of voters.
“Save The Paseo, the grassroots group that pushed for restoration of the boulevard’s original name, cruised to victory,” the Kansas City Star reported. “Unofficial results showed nearly 70% of voters favoring The Paseo with just two of 124 precincts in the Jackson County portion of Kansas City still not reporting late in the evening. All other precincts across the city reported results.”
The outcome was a stunning rebuke of the City Council’s January decision to rename The Paseo to honor King, the late civil rights leader. Now, Kansas City is expected to take down well over 100 signs along the road, which cuts through the heart of the predominantly black East Side.
One of the petitioners, Tara Green, told The Star that returning the street to its old name was not intended to disrepect King. “All of us want to see Dr. King honored, but what we didn’t want to happen was see our voices taken away entirely,” Green said. “To attempt to rewrite that history, I think, is extremely unfair.”
One complaint voiced by city residents was that the City Council waived a rule that requires 75% of residents to agree on changing a street’s name.
Mayor Quinton Lucas said the city should always seek input from residents.
“This ballot measure should remind all of us in City Hall that the way we do things matters: We must continue to legislate by bringing people together, seeking input from people with different perspectives and working to consensus-build on the issues that matter most to our community,” he said, according to The Star.
Before the name change, Kansas City was “one of the only large U.S. cities without a street renamed for the civil rights icon,” FOX4KC-TV reported.

Powered by Blogger.