Petition to change JC Nichols Parkway, a name linked to segregation, gains signatures

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City made headlines last week after voters decided to change Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard back to The Paseo.

“I thought it should stay Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard,” Kansas City resident Joanne Barbara said. “I was embarrassed.”

Barbara was joined with others in her disappointment of the decision to change the street name back but 70% of the voters were in favor of The Paseo.

“It’s all about keeping the conversation going now,” Chico Sierra said. “I started this petition the day after the votes came in.”

Chico Sierra is an educator and his petition to change JC Nichols Parkway to MLK Boulevard got over 1,400 signatures in five days.

“I think they should have changed the street name a long time ago, considering its history of segregation in Kansas City,” Sierra said. “After segregation had been made illegal in the United States, it sort of found a way to do it through real estate.”

JC Nichols was born in 1880 and later grew  to be a popular architect. Nichols developed over 6,000 homes and 160 apartment units in the Kansas City area between 1906 and 1950. Some of these homes can still be seen today.

Although he’s a man who is respected even now, he was also known for the division of Troost.

“He was a racist,” Sierra said. “Why not name that street after one of the greatest leaders in the world?”

Nichols stated in each of his property contracts that no person of color could reside in any of the homes he developed. Many said this officially created the Troost divide.

“I’m open to Martin Luther King being honored on any street, and even if it’s not this street, JC Nichols’ name should come down.”

At last check, Sierra’s petition had nearly 1,500 signatures, but he told FOX4 that his real mission is to continue to have conversations about Kansas City’s history while defining what we want our city to be today.

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