In April 2018, nearly 500 people in Kansas City pushed forward a proposal to rename The Paseo Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Protests were held in order for change, as the community felt that Dr. King was not being properly represented in Kansas City.
One month later, Kansas City Mayor Sly James created a committee to discuss what the option could be for naming a part of the city after the civil rights activist. The first option was the new airport terminals, then 63rd street, and then The Paseo.
Third district councilman and mayoral candidate Quinton Lucas receives a lot of opposition on this ordinance. He said when he first ran as a council member, he was asked by the community if he would support an ordinance that would honor Martin Luther King.
Today, as he becomes a vocal proponent for the name change, much hostility from those against it have directed their anger at him.
“I will note, by the way, that it’s not just me. In a number of these forums I was at, almost every at-large council member, except maybe Scott Wagner, said ‘yeah we would do it too,’” Lucas commented. “This isn’t about trying to make some big change.”
For Lucas, it is about properly representing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Many in support of this change think The Paseo represents exactly what Dr. King represented: peacefulness and acceptance. The Paseo is known for having incredible ethnic diversity, and therefore, in the eyes of supporters, would be something Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of.
Others believe changing the name of The Paseo Boulevard is changing a historical part of Kansas City. The Paseo is a famous street name, listed in the National Register for Historical Places. Residents who live along The Paseo, as well as businesses will have to go through the process of changing their addresses anywhere it might be on the Boulevard.
This can be costly, on top of the $50,000 to be able to dedicate a street name to King. Anything named after the famous reverend must pay the family of King royalties in order to be able to use his name. Initially The Board of Parks and Recreation rejected the proposal of renaming the boulevard, as it would not be cost effective, and they thought his name would do better elsewhere.
To hear more of this conversation with Quinton Lucas, check back this week to hear the latest edition of the Northeast Newscast Podcast.