Paseo Sign Kansas City Martin Luther King Blvd

KC residents are working to save the Paseo's name. The KC City Council renamed it in January to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. after lobbying by non-residents who wanted to commemorate King.

Paseo Blvd, like Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, and 125th Street in Harlem, exudes a rich cultural history. In Kansas City, Paseo Blvd has a 123-year-old history that some residents feel is worth preserving.

They weren’t happy with a Kansas City Council decision earlier this year to rename the street Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

In fact, nearly 3,000 people were disgruntled enough with the change to sign a petition to force a vote to reverse the name change.

The “Save the Paseo” Petition drive, filed with the City Clerk in April has been certified. Of the 2,857 signatures submitted, 2,450 were validated, well over the minimum 1,708 signatures required to bring the issue to a vote. Now it’s up to the City Council to schedule the question for a vote, either during the July election or in November, and it looks like it'll be November.

Public testimonies were heard May 22 at city hall to discuss Ordinance No. 190410 that seeks to change the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. back to The Paseo, and the ordinance will be heard at the legislative session at city hall on Thursday, June 6, according to The Northeast News. 

Ordinance No. 190410 provides for a public vote on Nov. 5, according to the council record from May 23. http://cityclerk.kcmo.org/LiveWeb/Meetings/CouncilMinutes.aspx?q=3huqSsBQ1miEmyw8Ox8zN8a6RX4AyFTaUb5R4BGSyYOr1VfR5pRNK4OSLMTGlKKt

Additionally, the agenda for the council's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on June 6 lists discussion for Ordinance 190431, which would authorize the city to obtain or take property along King Blvd. needed for construction, location and maintenance. See here http://cityclerk.kcmo.org/LiveWeb/Meetings/CombinedAgenda.aspx

The developments have happened as city crews have completed installing 200 King Blvd. road signs, The Northeast News reports.  http://northeastnews.net/pages/save-paseo-petition-placed-city-council-thursday/

BACKSTORY

The effort to name a street in Kansas City for Martin Luther King, Jr. dates back to 2011 when Councilman Jermaine Reed tried to rename Prospect Avenue. Reed's effort failed, but in 2016, a group of Black clergy members -- led by members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City - proposed the Paseo name change.

Mayor Sly James appointed a task force to study the issue. Their top two recommendations were naming the new city airport or 63rd St. after King.

Their third choice was renaming Paseo. Not all Black leaders supported the change, but somehow opposition to the name change was poised as racially motivated.

After several months of inaction, the city council voted to change the name without getting required input from nearby residents. Of course, residents objected, pointing out their position was not considered or even asked for.

Despite the White citizens often featured in the media as opposing the change, many Black residents signed the petition.

As a candidate for mayor, Councilwoman Alissia Canady told KCUR Radio she allowed her campaign office to be a place where people could sign the petition.

“It would be interesting when people of color would come in and it would almost be like they were sneaking in there to sign it because they didn’t want to be assumed that they weren’t supportive of Dr. King,” Canady told KCUR.

Canady says the concerns she heard most were about the process involved in the approval of the change. It became about race, she said, because race was used to motivate several of the council members to support the name change

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