Keon Ford, who has worked in the public works sector in Kansas City for three years, uncovered the road signs and applauded and cheered.
“How is it?” Rev. Vernon Howard’s voice echoed. “How about that?”
The sign in question has been created over the years.
On Saturday morning, the city officially announced a road sign indicating where Martin Luther King Boulevard intersects the Paseo. The boulevard (formerly Blue Parkway, Swope Parkway, Volker Boulevard) runs five miles along Blush Creek from Brookside Boulevard in the west to Interstate 435 in the east.
Ford supervisor Carlon Hill said that every time he did something positive, he felt tingling and goosebumps. That morning he said he felt “great”.
“This is another part of what I find great,” Hill said. “It’s part of its size, it’s positive, and it’s trying to spread throughout the heart of Kansas City.”
Park and Recreation Committee Committee Unanimously voted in April to commemorate the road in honor of the civil rights leaders, Ended Kansas City’s position as one of the few metropolitan cities with no streets named after King.
Mayor Quinton Lucas spoke at the event, saying the change represents an investment in the future of the community.
“We are truly investing in this beautiful 5 mile boulevard, not only installing signs, but also investing more money, investing more, paying more attention, more Will be one of the best boulevards in our park system when you pour your love into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. “
In the final attempt to name the street after King, which began in 2018, a group of Eastside ministers came to a former member of the Park Commission on the name change of the paseo.
Ministers were rejected, but the city council overturned the board and voted to change the name of the paseo in January 2019. The signature has been exchanged. Residents opposed the paseo name, claiming it was important to the city’s history, and campaigned to undo the change.
Named after the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, the paseo was created in the late 19th century. Landscape architect George Kessler as part of the city’s original park and boulevard system.. Partially added to the National Register of Historic Places, Midtown and Historic Northeast Parks and Boulevards.
By the end of the year, voters decided to restore the paseo and remove King’s name.
In the summer of 2020, the Park Commission attended the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Greater Kansas City. Subsequent proposals led to several sessions asking for public comments and hundreds of emails sent to the board.
Also noteworthy is that the board has not completely abolished Volker Boulevard. Instead, in honor of the late William Volker, a philanthropist in Kansas City, he recommended naming 45th to 52nd Streets Oak Street.
Chris Goode, Commissioner of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said the change speaks to progress and tenacity.
“It’s not a matter of language, it’s not a matter of fluffy remarks,” Goode said, holding his son in his arms. “It’s about behavior and concrete change. When we actually realize these dreams, they can be my reality and my son’s reality.”
According to public works director Michael Shaw, all 37 street signs will be replaced over the weekend, with five LED signs.
Terry Linard, head of Parks and Recreation, said most of the investment in Martin Luther King Jr. Square Park, which runs along the boulevard, is privately funded. She shows how much the community cares not only to honor the king, but to make the area appear to honor the king.
“People who have fought for years to properly nominate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and continue to fight the systematic racism that plagues our city as well as our country. Today is a great day for those who are, “said Rinard.
Kevin Woolfolk, Director of Membership Engagement at SCLC, founded by King, said: The principles of freedom, justice and equality for all, living wages, all rights and privileges of the Constitution, or for all. “