KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBS) — Americans honored the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday. Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he once preached, was packed for a celebration.
While 5,000 volunteers turned out for a day of service in Philadelphia. People marched along Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in New Orleans. But in Kansas City, Missouri, a tribute to Dr. King has divided the city.
When the city’s historic Paseo Boulevard was re-named for Dr. King last year, Reverend Dr. Vernon Howard Jr. thought of the children who would see it.
“I was a young boy walking up and down this street. When I was exposed to people who were conscious of my struggles, it was an inspiration to me,” he said.
But it soon became a “dream deferred.”
“When the decision came down to remove his name, what was that like for you?” CBS News asked.
“Pain, disappointment, betrayal,” Howard Jr. said.
Kellie Jones, who lives on the street, said residents are attached to its current name. “Paseo is one of our oldest boulevards,” Jones said.
Upset that all residents weren’t consulted, her group, Save the Paseo, fought for a public vote. Sixty-five percent of voters chose “Paseo.”
“Some people hearing about this story for the first time may be surprised or find it interesting that a black community would oppose this renaming,” she said. “We’re not opposing the renaming, we just simply wanted to be heard.”
Kansas City, Missouri, is again one of three big cities without a street named after Dr. King. That isn’t the reputation that Mayor Quinton Lucas wants.
“Nobody wants to see a headline on the ‘CBS Evening News’ that said Kansas City did this thing,” Lucas said. “We will make sure that we will recognize Dr. King both this year, long into the future.”
The signs will come down soon, and the public is submitting new ideas for a tribute.
“Shakespeare talked about what’s in a name and I think that we learned from this that there can be a heck of a lot,” Lucas added.
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