Kansas City Parks board approves naming streets after Martin Luther King Jr.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Parks Board voted to rename a street after Martin Luther King Jr. The vote took place Tuesday afternoon.

The board’s decision means parts of Blue Parkway from Elmwood Avenue to Swope Parkway, Swope Parkway from Blue Parkway to Volker and Volker from Swope Parkway to Brookside Boulevard will be known as “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.”

City leaders and people living in Kansas City have debated how to honor the civil rights leader for years.

In 2018, then-Mayor Sly James formed a committee that would explore renaming a street in honor of MLK. Then, in 2019, the Kansas City Council voted to rename The Paseo “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.”

The new street signs went up in February 2019, but they wouldn’t stay for long. The issue was put on the November ballot and voters handily voted to change the name back to “The Paseo.”

The effort to change the name back was spearheaded by a group called “Save The Paseo.”

The group’s organizer, Diane Euston, said people felt they didn’t get a say in the process.

“The whole idea is to give everyone in the city a chance to decide,” Euston said. “That’s how it should be especially when you are changing something that has so many memories and tangible history attached to it. That’s how it should be done.”

The decision wasn’t without criticism. After the vote, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver criticized the tactics of the “Save The Paseo” group and their silent protest at Paseo Baptist Church.

After the vote, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced that the KC Parks Board would hold a series of public meetings and come up with a recommendation for how to best honor Dr. King.

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