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Old 7th November 2019, 09:56 PM   #1
Delphic Oracle
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Kansas City rejects attempt to honor Dr. King (or maybe not)

Well, my hometown got some national (and international) press...

Kansas City Voters Remove Martin Luther King’s Name From Boulevard

Kansas City voters choose to remove Martin Luther King Jr.'s name from a historic street

Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approve measure to drop Martin Luther King Jr.'s name from street

Martin Luther King Jr.’s name removed from historic street by Kansas City voters

Martin Luther King's name removed from Kansas City street

Kansas City votes to remove Martin Luther King's name from historic street

Martin Luther King Jr.'s name voted off historic boulevard in Kansas City

Of course, for those who scan the headline and move on, Kansas City is apparently super racist.

So basically the city council (very recently) renamed a historic boulevard to MLK. Among the proposed reasons was to "reduce incidents of vandalism" which...um...ok? They skipped or quietly waived many required steps for this process. In the aftermath as resistance grew, it has been typical to label any objectors as wanting to "erase Dr. King's legacy." In point of fact, most of the objections (and most of the property owners along the street) are African-American. That, of course, is a major part of the objection itself. It is not "honoring Dr. King's legacy" to name a street after him in a "black part of town", many feel exactly the opposite.

Our city history (and we're sadly not alone, of course) is filled with redlining and discriminatory housing/development policy. J.C. Nichols was a major architect of that policy and he has a fountain and park named after him here. For a quaint little cow town we are still one of the most racially segregated communities in the country. About a mile west of a good stretch of Paseo (the original and now restored name of the boulevard) is Troost Ave., the historic dividing line between black and white neighborhoods. It's like our very own miniature Mason-Dixon line. It is so ubiquitously understood as such that in the last year or so (as gentrification pushes eastwards) that it became somewhat common to hear the remark "Paseo is the new Troost" which is, perhaps misguidedly, an awful way of expressing the sentiment "I think it is safe to go a bit further east because they moved the black people out of the way."

It should also be noted the Troost the street is named for was a plantation owner. Many insist that an east-west street should bear his name for this exact reason. Basically the thinking is that Dr. King is not honored by slapping his name on a street in a "black neighborhood" because his legacy was probably about more than the fact that he was a black man. Reflecting his legacy -in the context of this city's history- needs to be a little more thought out than that.

Yes, I have a strong opinion on this issue, but in addition to that, it has been interesting to see so much discussion on friends' social media feeds and the tireless work it seems to take to repeatedly try untangle the issues amidst of flood of "why would you guys do this?!" generated by drive-by headline readers. So it makes me wonder what kinds of untruths I have floating around in my head because of a lack of local perspective.

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Old 8th November 2019, 04:02 AM   #2
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Renaming a street is a pain in the butt for those living on it regardless of the name in question. I'm not saying it should never be done, but there should be a very compelling reason.
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Old 8th November 2019, 04:47 AM   #3
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I almost got sucked into this clickbait controversy - the first article I saw ent through the most recent vote, without so much as mentioning the actual issue behind the vote at any point.

I was, naturtally, irritated when I looked past the initial tweet, and saw a bunch of Kanseans saying that this was as much about the history and the process used to change the street name, and not about MLK Jr. Mostly because...well, yes, there should be public input and the stated process should be followed. Also, I'm pretty sure MLK didn't mention having a bunch of streets named after him in his famous speeches and writings.
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Old 8th November 2019, 05:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Delphic Oracle View Post
Well, my hometown got some national (and international) press...
<snip>
Thanks, interesting. Without reading the articles I saw few headlines and fell for them.
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Old 8th November 2019, 09:37 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Delphic Oracle View Post
So it makes me wonder what kinds of untruths I have floating around in my head because of a lack of local perspective.
Gell-Mann amnesia.
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Old 8th November 2019, 12:23 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Renaming a street is a pain in the butt for those living on it regardless of the name in question. I'm not saying it should never be done, but there should be a very compelling reason.
One of the requirements is 75% approval by the residents on said street. This being a wide boulevard with a median running many miles through the city, that's a big pool to consult. 75% seemed a bit high of a bar to me but then I considered that's an excellent way to make sure at least 75% of the residents know their street name changed at all.
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Old 8th November 2019, 12:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Delphic Oracle View Post
One of the requirements is 75% approval by the residents on said street. This being a wide boulevard with a median running many miles through the city, that's a big pool to consult. 75% seemed a bit high of a bar to me but then I considered that's an excellent way to make sure at least 75% of the residents know their street name changed at all.
My street's had the same name for two hundred years and I still get the wrong mail. I hate to think what would happen if they changed it.
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Old 8th November 2019, 12:29 PM   #8
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In somewhat positive news on this, the city says the old (restored) name signs are still in storage. We have to eat the cost of replacing the signs twice, but at least we don't have to buy the signs themselves again. Also some folks are wondering if "Big Signage, Inc." was behind some of this, as "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd." means every single sign is about 3x bigger by surface area than most others. Also, depending on what street ultimately bears his name, we may be able to use a fair portion of the new signs (we have the cross address on the signs at the major intersections, so they can't just be put anywhere).

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Old 8th November 2019, 12:30 PM   #9
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How about we just name streets after inanimate objects so people can stop worrying?

Then again, how many people really give a crap? We hear from the noisy ones and they get all the attention.

Damn people, step outside and look around. People aren't walking around with holstered guns threatening to shoot each other on every street, transgenders aren't wandering aimlessly outside restrooms fearing to go in, and cops aren't beating people and shooting them indiscriminately.

Compare statistics with headlines. Most people still get along just fine with each other.

I guess that's what sells (people whining). It's like the news industry is little more than a big Jerry Springer show.
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Old 8th November 2019, 12:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Delphic Oracle View Post
Yes, I have a strong opinion on this issue, but in addition to that, it has been interesting to see so much discussion on friends' social media feeds and the tireless work it seems to take to repeatedly try untangle the issues amidst of flood of "why would you guys do this?!" generated by drive-by headline readers. So it makes me wonder what kinds of untruths I have floating around in my head because of a lack of local perspective.
And this is exactly what makes “fake news” such a scourge. It’s easy to get outraged, harder to educate yourself and understand. We’ve gotten kind of addicted to outrage. Something has to change IMO. I hope things don’t have to get worse before they get better.
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Old 8th November 2019, 12:42 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
And this is exactly what makes “fake news” such a scourge. It’s easy to get outraged, harder to educate yourself and understand. We’ve gotten kind of addicted to outrage. Something has to change IMO. I hope things don’t have to get worse before they get better.
The culmination of a relationship sub-plot from the 2nd season of "Newsroom" always stays in the back of my mind when this issue comes up.

The boyfriend character is unhappy with the girlfriend character's career choices (clickbait type website). She ultimately points out to him that he doesn't really hate her, or her work, or even her employer. He hates the audience.

There's a really powerful point made there.

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Old 8th November 2019, 12:47 PM   #12
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Semi related, it reminds of Cesar Chavez st in San Francisco. It was Renamed in 1995 but in 2010 most if not all of the signs read "Cesar Chavez St(army st)" My former roommate still called it army. I think he was just a curmudgeon and not a racist but I don't really know.
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Old 8th November 2019, 12:56 PM   #13
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There's nothing wrong with renaming a street in honor of Doctor King, but the 2010s seem a little late to be getting on that bandwagon. Who exactly is left, who's going to be pleased by that bit of pandering?
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Old 8th November 2019, 01:29 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
Semi related, it reminds of Cesar Chavez st in San Francisco. It was Renamed in 1995 but in 2010 most if not all of the signs read "Cesar Chavez St(army st)" My former roommate still called it army. I think he was just a curmudgeon and not a racist but I don't really know.
Portland's MLKJ Blvd had the same issue for quite a while. Our Cesar Chavez Blvd as well, though that one was a bit more understandable since they selected a numbered street for the change, which was really dumb since numbered streets used consistently make navigating a city much easier.
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Old 8th November 2019, 02:07 PM   #15
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Apologies if this story has already been told here.

The South African consulate-general in the city of Glasgow, Scotland was situated in St George's Place.

In 1986, at that point still at the height of apartheid, the local council renamed that square to Nelson Mandela Place. Any correspondence to the above office would now carry the name of the country's most high-profile political prisoner.
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Old 8th November 2019, 02:14 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Babbylonian View Post
Portland's MLKJ Blvd had the same issue for quite a while. Our Cesar Chavez Blvd as well, though that one was a bit more understandable since they selected a numbered street for the change, which was really dumb since numbered streets used consistently make navigating a city much easier.
Our downtown renamed about three blocks of a Lettered street to Cesar Chavez.

Most pointless name change ever. And confusing, too, since the street letter was E.
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Old 8th November 2019, 04:59 PM   #17
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We have a street that was renamed after a local military hero. He was killed in an ambush in the Phillipines while serving as "chief of the Army Division at the Joint United States Military Advisory Group headquarters." I've lived here 20 years now and it's always been Col. Rowe street to me. The city actually renamed the street 10 years before I got here in 1989, the year he was killed. Nobody to this day calls it Col. Rowe Blvd.; it's still 2nd Street. I only know it's Col. Rowe Blvd. because of the signs and it caused much confusion when I first moved here. And not just with me apparently because the city replaced the signs shortly after I moved here and they now say: "Col Rowe Blvd. (2nd St.)" They also named a new high school after him very soon after that which seems more fitting and lasting.

Renaming streets seems to be the most pointless and confusing way to honor people. I wish municipalities wouldn't do it. If you want to honor someone, give them something that is theirs from the beginning -a new street, a new school, a new municipal building.
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Old 8th November 2019, 05:24 PM   #18
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Old Chris Rock joke: If you're on MLK Boulevard in any major city...run! You're in a bad neighborhood!

Good luck avoiding the racist label, KC. Arizona had two ballot initiatives to establish MLK Day back in the 1980s. Unfortunately lots of people voted for one but not the other, with the result that both initiatives lost narrowly. Analysis of the ballots showed that 60% of the voters had voted in favor of one or the other initiative, but of course the media went with the easy "Arizona's so racist" line, and the NFL yanked the Super Bowl in response.
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Old 8th November 2019, 06:47 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Old Chris Rock joke: If you're on MLK Boulevard in any major city...run! You're in a bad neighborhood!
I still joke that the Fairmount Park commission allowed West River Drive to be renamed MLK drive so they wouldn’t have to do any maintenance on it anymore.
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Old 8th November 2019, 09:22 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
My street's had the same name for two hundred years and I still get the wrong mail. I hate to think what would happen if they changed it.
You would get no mail at all.
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Old 11th November 2019, 10:43 AM   #21
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https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/video...ign/vi-BBWyx73

Naturally Sharpton's introductory framing went straight into this being a race issue only. Also, slyly mentioning the name was "voted on" but not mentioning it was voted on by the council, not by constituents.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver: "Even the Klan never marched into a church."

Yes, good job, tell 70% of your constituents they are worse than the KKK, surely a path to electoral victory...

ETA: I'm fairly certain the Klan did a lot of things related to black churches at some point.

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Old 11th November 2019, 10:50 AM   #22
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"This city needs a street to honor Dr. Martin Luthor King" and "This exact street right here, this one and no other, has to be named Dr. Martin Luthor King Street" aren't the same thing.
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Old 11th November 2019, 10:52 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
"This city needs a street to honor Dr. Martin Luthor King" and "This exact street right here, this one and no other, has to be named Dr. Martin Luthor King Street" aren't the same thing.
I think King and Lex Luthor are fairly different personalities. Although the civil rights movement would have been very interesting if they hadn't been.
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Old 12th November 2019, 12:37 PM   #24
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Emanuel Cleaver stomps and shouts when asked about comparing MLK Blvd. opponents to KKK


Cleaver had to hear how people felt about his characterization and was very upset by that.

Not too long ago he quit the chair during a congressional session because of the "lack of civility" taking place.

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Old Yesterday, 12:22 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Delphic Oracle View Post
...
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver: "Even the Klan never marched into a church."

...

ETA: I'm fairly certain the Klan did a lot of things related to black churches at some point.
Yeah, they never marched into a church. They just burned them down.
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Old Yesterday, 01:54 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Renaming a street is a pain in the butt for those living on it regardless of the name in question. I'm not saying it should never be done, but there should be a very compelling reason.
The township my grandparents/parents lived in since the 1940's was re-naming a few roads and asked my dad if he wanted the road he lived on to be changed to his name. He said no as he fondly regarded the namesakes of the current road name.

When I found out I was crushed. The house is mine now, I could be living on Ranb Road!

Ranb
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Old Yesterday, 02:01 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Ranb View Post
The township my grandparents/parents lived in since the 1940's was re-naming a few roads and asked my dad if he wanted the road he lived on to be changed to his name. He said no as he fondly regarded the namesakes of the current road name.

When I found out I was crushed. The house is mine now, I could be living on Ranb Road!

Ranb
A lot of streets in my hometown are named after old families, to one of which I'm even a cousin.

All Serbian or Italian.
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