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Eugene city council reverses itself on MKL Blvd. Name

The remarkable turnaround came just two days after the council rejected an NAACP proposal to rename Centennial boulevard for King and one day after outraged black leaders said they had no intention of participating in a committee charged with considering other ways to honor King.
Eugene City Council reverses self, approves MLK street naming

Signs will go up in 30 days on Eugene's new Martin Luther King Jr.Boulevard after the Eugene City Council reversed itself Wednesday and voted 6-2 to rename Centennial Boulevard after the slain civil rights leader.

The remarkable turnaround came just two days after the council rejected an NAACP proposal to rename the boulevard for King and one day after outraged black leaders said they had no intention of participating in a committee charged with considering other ways to honor King.

The action is being celebrated in Eugene. Eugene citizens worked hard to get Centennial Blvd renamed to Martin Luther King Blvd. Lane County commissoners agreed to pay for any signage changes. Rallies were held to talk about the process. City officials originally said they should name some other landmark after MLK. They suggested the Ferry street bridge. Social activists and the NAACP were outraged at this. The controversial bridge was built by tearing down low-income housing and green space used by working class citizens. The NAACP and African American leaders in the city said they would have nothng to do with such a project.

After the first vote hundreds of people wrote to the local papers, called radio stations and said they would start a recall campaign of the present city councilors who opposed giving MLK's name a place of prominence.

Good work Eugene activists and NAACP!

hmmm 11.Jun.2003 20:03

interesting

Did Springfield agree to rename the controversial blvd as well?

I remember they were considering rejecting this proposal as well..lat e last year.

Controversial Blvd 12.Jun.2003 18:22

skate

I confess to being unaware of the nitty gritty details in this. I'm curious, what is controversial about "Centennial Blvd"? Is it just because someone doesn't want it changed to MLK, or is there something about the word centennial? I recall that there was some debate in Portland when Union avenue became MLK, because Union was considered bad in some way. Is this like that?

"honor"? 13.Jun.2003 00:47

funny...

Could someone please explain how it is an honor to have a car road named after you?

In the future I dream of, that would be a dishonor, but having a park or wildland area would be a real honor. Anything but a big slab of pavement.

MLK Street in Eugene 25.Jun.2003 10:58

D. Rongbech

Excellent article. I generally have found your articles well-chosen, well-written and interesting.

ONE editorial critique on this article: regarding statement that NAACP / Afro-American leaders "would have nothing to do with committee CHARGED WITH planning another way to honor" Dr. King.

"Charged with" is too strong a word in the wrong place here. "Planning another way to honor" is too soft in the wrong place: no doubt it was the City Council's description of their plan: but out of place in a sentence speaking of the NAACP's objection to it.

Clearly what the NAACP objected to was not that other plans were different, but were, in their estimation, inappropriate to the point of outrage. The reason for that stand was only explained much later in the article.

A better sentence might have been: "NAACP / Afro-American leaders rejected the Council's alternate plan as insensitive and inappropriate, vowing to withdraw their participation if it were adopted."

Possibly some typos may have slipped by me in writing this critique. But . . . I don't have an editor!