African-American leaders push to rename The Paseo in honor of Dr - KCTV5

African-American leaders push to rename The Paseo in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Leaders want to rename The Paseo in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as a symbol of peace and unity. (KCTV5) Leaders want to rename The Paseo in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as a symbol of peace and unity. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

African American religious and political leaders in Kansas City are turning to the ballot box in an effort to rename a well-known street.

Leaders want to rename The Paseo in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as a symbol of peace and unity.

On April 13, the local head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Vernon Howard Jr., will lead an effort to gather signatures and place the issue on the August ballot.

The petition drive is in reaction to a recent decision by the Kansas Parks and Recreation Board, who has jurisdiction over the city’s boulevards and oppose the change.

On March 23, Board President Jean-Paul Chaurand wrote in a letter that the long-standing naming policy is to, “Honor individuals who have made significant and outstanding contributions of land, funds, goods or services to the city and parks, recreation and boulevards, in particular.”

Chaurand also mentioned a 42-acre park along the south bank of Brush Creek that is named for Dr. King, adding that the board recognizes the contributions and sacrifices made by Dr. King to our country and society. He says he has encouraged the city council to explore ways Kansas City could best honor Dr. King and his legacy.

Organizers for the April 13 event say it will begin at 3400 Paseo and include a march to the intersection of 27th Street and The Paseo and then on to the intersection of 27th and Prospect Avenue. After the march, the group will hold a rally at the Morning Star Baptist Church.

“We are doing this on The Paseo as a symbol of the need for the change that needs to take place right there on that boulevard,” Howard said. “When we consider the constituencies in our community who desire this change because it would bring about a better sense of cultural identity, racial pride and also a sense of embracing the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. which was peace, and love and unity.”

Nearly 900 streets in 42 states carry the civil rights leader’s name. Howard says Kansas City is believed to be one of the larger metropolitan areas without one.

Howard says changing the name would be a great move for the city.

In a situation that we have today where Kansas City, especially in an inner city, is so riddled with violence, we believe that naming a major thoroughfare after the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner is a powerful statement for this city and for our community,” Howard said.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James is also pushing for the city to honor Dr. King.

On Friday, James will announce a special group of trusted community members, who have been asked to make a recommendation for a Martin Luther King, Jr., designation in the city. He plans to ask the group to engage the broader community to find a solution that truly honors Dr. King and his ideals of equity and respect and aligns with the city’s long-term planning goals and vision for an inclusive community. 

James will make the announcement at 1 p.m. at the Bruce R. Watkins Heritage Center, located at 3700 Blue Parkway.

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