KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Nichols family and their foundation have given their support to efforts to rename the J.C. Nichols Fountain and Parkway on the Country Club Plaza.
“We have a great passion for the Kansas City spirit, and for the people in every corner of our community who bring it to life,” Kay Callison, president of the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation, said in a news release on Tuesday. “It is important to each of us that we publicly endorse the name change for the greater good of the city we love.”
Callison, the granddaughter of the fountain and parkway's namesake J.C. Nichols, said that her own father, Miller Nichols, "would be proud to see us taking these actions."
Mark Callison, the grandson of Miller Nichols, called the renaming efforts "a defining moment for our city."
"Our family stands squarely behind the spirit of diversity, equality and social justice that has taken hold in our region and in our nation," Mark Callison said in the release. "My grandfather Miller taught us these values. The best way we knew to communicate them was to say to Kansas Citians from every corner of this community, ‘Kansas City, the Nichols Family stands with you.'"
The family also said their foundation will donate $100,000 to the City of Fountains Foundation for continued maintenance and support of the fountain.
KCMO Parks and Recreation Commissioner Chris Goode proposed changing the name of the fountain and parkway earlier this month as a way to “stop turning a blind eye towards racism of past and present.”
J.C. Nichols, a developer who is credited with envisioning the Country Club Plaza, has been criticized for his redlining tactics, which were designed to keep Black and Jewish families segregated.
The Kansas City community remains unusually segregated by race to this day due in large part to those policies supported by Nichols.
Efforts to rename the iconic fountain in Mill Creek Park are not new but have gained traction in recent weeks. There appears to be broad support for renaming the fountain and the parkway, which runs between the Plaza and the park north from West 47th Street to West 43rd Street, though a consensus on a new name for the landmarks has not yet been reached.