KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City wants to rename a street after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The organization's vice president, Reverend Sam Mann, said, "Kansas City is the only large metropolitan city, area in the United States that does not have a street named after Dr. King. I want to say it just fell through the cracks."
Now, there's a renewed effort to change that. The local SCLC wants to rename The Paseo after the civil rights icon, but the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Board said no.
In a letter, stating:
- The naming policy has been in place since 1975 and is generally reserved for people who make big contributions of land, money, goods or services to the city and parks
- Serious consideration is given to decisions made by previous boards
- The Paseo Boulevard was named at the request of the first ever Parks board chair, August Meyer, in 1893
- There are an estimated 900 roads, streets and highways in the United States named after Dr. King but none in Kansas City
- There is already a 42-acre park named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park
"What would you rather have? A little nondescript park named after you or a boulevard? You'd want a boulevard. It's got to be visible," Mann emphasized.
Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed said, "Those that rioted back in 1968 after his assassination and you fast forward to today and we still 50 years later don't necessarily have a major street named after him. I think that we have to go the extra mile."
If the Parks board won't do it, the city council could step in. Reed says the full council has the ability to rename streets. If that doesn't work, the SCLC is prepared to gather the more than 1700 signatures it needs to get the measure on an August ballot.
Mann says it's important because "He was a black Baptist preacher who gave his life and led a nation and won the Nobel Peace Prize. Oh, yea, yea. Matter of fact, we probably should name two streets after him."
On Friday, supporters plan to march from Victorious Life to Morningstar Baptist Church to commemorate Dr. King's assassination and honor his legacy.