Here’s how readers reacted to the battle over renaming The Paseo for Martin Luther King

Sides of the street

Our June issue included a feature about the contentious fight over the renaming of the historic Paseo, Kansas City’s oldest boulevard, for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  The renaming was approved by the city council at the request of a group of black clergymen without following the city’s specified protocol. Many residents of the street, which one black city official has referred to as “our Ward Parkway,” collected signatures to force the issue onto the November ballot. Our story explored the way previous media coverage has shaped the discussion by ignoring pro-Paseo voices in the black community and the national furor that could follow the vote. Here’s what readers had to say. (Read the full story here)

Here’s how readers reacted to the story:

“Renaming everything J.C. Nichols to MLK is a better choice. To people saying J.C. Nichols [Parkway, named for a local developer who practiced redlining] isn’t very long… I mean, yeah, it’s short. But it covers arguably the most famous part of the city and that most tied to its history of segregation. It would send a huge message to name part of the Plaza of all places after King, regardless of how long the street itself is. And rename that fountain while we’re at it.” — James Wartell

“I find it sad that the media will make it all about race. This isn’t a racial thing. It’s simply about the city council and local leaders attempting to make a change to the most historic boulevard in Kansas City without voter approval.” —Heidi Lanning

“Media from the beginning made this issue racist, reporting constantly that the Paseo should be chosen because a lot of blacks live along the Paseo. This issue is all about respecting the citizens along Paseo to have a say on their street change name! City Hall caused this issue. They should have done their job and followed
city guidelines!” —George Johnson

“They’ll have a hard time doing that since many members here are also African American. And like Dr. King’s legacy, we are all united for “The Paseo,” so that should put a sting in their cap… and their plans.” —Lamar Mickens

“They got signatures, that is totally their right, and we’re going to have an election about it. That’s how these things are supposed to work,” says Quinton Lucas.

“Yeah, Mr. Lucas, that is how these things are supposed to work, so maybe you should not have unlawfully bypassed this ordinance and robbed Kansas Citians of voter consent. The arrogance of this man absolutely astounds me.” —Devan Dignan

“Let’s count our blessings: At least [Lucas] is not making it racial, and at least he is indicating he will respect the outcome of the ballot initiative and supports our right to petition. Obviously, he is opposed to changing the name back, but his civil tone will help tamp down any upcoming nastiness as the ballot vote approaches.” —John Bordeau

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