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Community members want Kansas City street named after Martin Luther King, Jr.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- All across the country, people are honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. and what the civil rights leader worked towards.

In Kansas City, there's a park named after King. But some community members say that's not enough. The topic made it's way to City Hall, but the City council's discussion about naming a street or Boulevard after King sits at a standstill.

A group of Kansas City pastors brought up the idea of changing the name of The Paseo to Martin Luther King , Jr. Boulevard. Kansas City is one of the only major American cities that does not have a street named after King. But that idea proved controversial. Some people say changing the name of The Paseo would take away from it's historic value.

As  a response, Mayor Sly James formed a Martin Luther King, Jr. advisory committee in April, so community members could come up with a name designation.They brought up the ideas of naming 63rd Street after King, or naming the new airport terminal after him.

In the fall, City Council member Quinton Lucas introduced an ordinance to rename The Paseo to "Martin Luther King Jr. on the Paseo." Council member Jermaine Reed said if that were to happen, he would want to see 75% of the people who live on the Paseo show support for the change. A city ordinance about street name changes says that's necessary, but Lucas claims it has never been enforced ever before.

Since the ordinance's introduction, a vote has been delayed five times.

"I'm happy to compromise," Quinton Lucas said. "I'm happy to collaborate but what I don't want to see is another 50 years go by, we have no honor for Dr. King and no street name in this city and no concrete honor. 

Lucas said having a street designation for King would send a strong message.

"Martin Luther King Jr. day doesn't just recognize Dr. King and his work, I think it recognizes a movement," Lucas said. "It recognizes pushing towards equality. It recognizes not just pushing towards racial equality, but addressing poverty and so many other issues. So I think it means a lot not just to the black community and many others about how we can try to in a way speak to our better angels and become a more equal city. And one that recognizes our differences but also how we should not be treated differently. I think that's why we continue to push for recognition. At one time Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was controversial. It's more than the measure of the man himself, it's the measure of the movement and the many people who have been part of it long term."

Lucas included a proposed name change in an east side revitalization ordinance, because he says the ordinance included money for a new designation. But that ordinance moved forward without the name change.

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