Efforts to name KC street for Martin Luther King, Jr.; hitting roadblocks since 1975

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On the day set aside to reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., city leaders are still working on a dubious distinction for Kansas City. The city remains one of the only large American cities without a street renamed for the civil rights icon.

“I don’t see or know anything that compares to it,” Dr. Vernon Howard with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said.

Dr. Howard’s been working for two years on a task force to come up with ideas to properly honor Dr. King.

Some of the suggestions have been to rename 63rd Street, name one of the new KCI terminal buildings for King, or to rename The Paseo.

It’s a debate that has been stalled at KC City Hall over the last year or so.

“The breaking of faith has already occurred,” Dr. Howard said. “And what we are trying to do is heal and mend it.”

There have been previous attempts to rename a street for MLK in Kansas City.

In 2011, City Councilmember Jermaine Reed spearheaded an effort to rename Prospect Avenue for Dr. King. That movement failed to gain enough traction.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver confirms there was a similar push to rename Prospect in 1975 that also fell short.

“We are way overdue for that to happen, it should happen,” said longtime Kansas City resident Dr. Sharon Fisher.

“The entire world is affected by him, other countries celebrate his birthday and his death and his legacy,” Fisher said.

The KC City Council is scheduled to take up the MLK issue at this Thursday’s meeting.

The council has recently postponed any debate or discussion on the issue.

Dr. Howard believes it’s time to put this debate, and Kansas City’s distinction of not having a street named for King, to rest.

“They can get it done this Thursday,” Howard said. “It can happen at the city Council meeting this Thursday.”

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