The Kansas City voters this Tuesday have collectively decided to remove the Martin Luther King name from the city’s famous boulevards. The change took place in less than a year, once the city council agreed to remain The Paseo, keeping in mind the civil rights icon. According to the unofficial outcomes, the suggestion for removing King’s name got a 70% vote. Only 30% of people wanted to retain Martin Luther King’s name.
The debate and the change
The civil rights leaders, pushing for this change, were found celebrating the moment the street signs were up. They thought that they won a battle that was on for decades, for honouring the King. It was also a battle that put an end to the city’s reputation of being one of the biggest U.S cities, without having a street after his name.
However, the desire to keep the name The Paseo from a team of residents soon was gaining momentum. It started collecting more petitions, and the target was successful in April. The entire campaign was divisive! The ones who stood for the King’s name accused the opponents as racist. On the other hand, the ones that supported The Paseo shared that the city’s leaders were continually promoting the King’s name. They turned a blind eye on The Paseo’s historical significance.
The King’s name and The Paseo
The ones who were in favour of King’s name expressed that their opponents were making a racist attack! They also said that campaign to save The Paseo, mostly comprised of a white group, with members who don’t even reside on the street. The street moves from north to south across a belt of the black area of Kansas City. Hence, removing the King’s name would have an unfavourable impact on Kansas City. It could also affect tourism and business.
On the other hand, people who were in favour of The Paseo rejected the racist claims. They said that they always respected the King and wishes that the city decides on other ways to serenade him. Their opposition to this name change stems from the fact that City Council, failed to follow the city charter procedures while planting this change. Most of the residents weren’t aware of this proposal either. They further asserted that The Paseo happens to be a historical name for the city’s very first boulevard, and it got completed back in 1899. They also informed that the boulevard’s northern end got listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The final thoughts
It was the City Council that voted in January for renaming the boulevard for the King. It was in response to their efforts on for a year from the black leaders of the city. Other people and movements were backing up this change, as well.
Also, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo, minister, and even the former mayor of Kansas City shared his views regarding this situation. He welcomed the protestors but also suggested that they should take into account all the damage that might happen if the city eliminated the King’s name. Presently, there are divided thoughts about this change.