In last Tuesday’s municipal election where Question 5 sought to return The Paseo name to what was briefly Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., the “yes” votes outnumbered the “no” votes in a roughly 70-30 percent margin.
Immediately following the unofficial results being released, supporters of Save The Paseo (STP), a grassroots community activist group, offered an olive branch to the “No on 5” contingent in terms of working together to determine a fitting memorial to Dr. King.
A number of options have been offered, including working with the city and Parks and Recreation officials to secure improvements to Martin Luther King Jr. Square Park at Swope Parkway and Woodland Avenue.
This critically-thinking NewsDog doesn’t think Reed, Lucas, or anyone from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) even knew of the park’s existence until Northland Councilwoman Heather Hall brought it to their attention during a City Council session—but that’s a story for another day.
That conciliatory handshake, that olive branch, offered by Save The Paseo organizer Diane Euston, was unceremoniously swatted down by Dr. Vernon “Percy” Howard, the head of the Kansas City chapter of the SCLC, the very next day in the form of a 1,300 word screed posted on the group’s Facebook page.
Howard’s manifesto, which we’ve linked on our website, is full of everything you’d expect from him, including an unfair ballot and intimidation from STP organizers when they, in Howard’s words, “barged into a black church where our GOTV rally was being held” and again, in Howard’s words, “frightened children and parents from the sanctuary.”
While the Save The Paseo group’s choice to stand in the aisles may not have been the best choice, peacefully demonstrating at a rally is a time-honored form of protest for social justice and public policy issues.
Howard’s contention that the position of the question on the ballot was unfair, as was the question’s wording, is ridiculous.
Here’s a little reminder for Dr. Howard: the ballot language was out there far in advance of the election, as was the order of the questions.
Funny that this news pooch heard nothing from SCLC about this issue ahead of the election when it could have been addressed.
Here’s the bottom line from the Dog: Save The Paseo organizers should continue to take the high road and work toward determining a fitting memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whether Howard and his flock want to be part of the conversation or not.
There have already been informal plans floated that make vast and fitting improvements to the already existing park land that bears his name.
The addition of interpretive panels, recreation, and picnic areas would be great.
Maybe a replica of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where in March of 1965, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led thousands of civil rights marchers across the river to the state capitol in Montgomery, would add a physical note to one of Dr. King’s great efforts.
Such a replica bridge could span the waters of Brush Creek and stand as a fitting memorial to Dr. King and the civil rights movement that ultimately spelled the destruction of the Jim Crow era.