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Overwhelming majority of Kansas City voters elect to remove MLK Jr.'s name from historic street


The masses have spoken

Photo by David Butow/Corbis via Getty Images

Kansas City, Missouri, voters passed a proposal to remove Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s name from one of city's most historic streets.

What are the details?

Voters overwhelmingly approved the removal of the civil rights leader's name from the 10-mile stretch known as "The Paseo."

About 70 percent of voters were in favor of removing King's name, while 30 percent voted to keep the street's name as "Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard."

The street extends across the city's predominantly black east side area and became the subject of controversy in January when the city council opted to rename The Paseo for the late civil rights leader.

Some local residents, however, were not pleased with the council's idea to rename the historic street, and collected petitions to put the measure on the ballot. The movement divided many residents, with supporters of The Paseo arguing that the city forced the name change by circumventing proper channels, and supporters of the name change insisting that historic Paseo supporters are racist.

Kansas City was one of the longest-running large U.S. cities without a street named for King.

You can read more on the background here.

Anything else?

The Rev. Vernon Howard, who is president of the Kansas City chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said that a street sign bearing King's name is important to black culture.

"I think that only if you are a black child growing up in the inner city lacking the kind of resources, lacking the kinds of images and models for mentoring, modeling, vocation and career, can you actually understand what that name on that sign can mean to a child in this community," Howard said.

"What people will wonder in their minds and hearts is why and how something so good, uplifting and edifying, how can something like that be taken away?" he added.

Diane Euston, one of the leaders of the pro-Paseo group, said that the historic street name "doesn't just mean something to one community in Kansas City."

"It means something to everyone in Kansas City," she explained. "It holds kind of a special place in so many people's hearts and memories. It's not just historical on paper, it's historical in people's memory. It's very important to Kansas City."

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