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Martin Luther King Jr. Signs Go Up As Petition To Change It Back To Paseo Gains Support

Michelle Tyrene Johnson
One of the newly-installed signs going up the boulevard since the city council vote.

Kansas City, Missouri, residents opposed to the city council's vote to rename Paseo Boulevard to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have no plans to slow down.

A member of the Blue Hills Neighborhood Association, Cheryl Barnes is part of a petition drive to reverse the January decision.

“We think that they didn’t do it properly. We think they rushed it through,” Barnes says. “We think there was not enough citizen input. And we think it’s just not a good way to destroy a very significant part of Kansas City’s history.”

Barnes says that the opponents have almost 2,000 signatures, more than the 1,700 requirement to put the issue on the ballot.

Credit Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
The box on the porch of the Blue Hills Neighborhood Association contains petitions being distributed to change the name of the boulevard back to Paseo.

She says they want to make sure they exceed the requirement in case there are any duplications or mistakes of residency.

Barnes says the goal is to have enough signatures to put on the ballot this year.

“We don’t find the find the fact that the city rushed this through the process and is rushing now to get the signs changed is any kind of a deterrent,” Barnes says. “We’ll be back, we think they did it wrong. If they were able to put the signs up, they can take them down and change them. It’s as easy as that."

Maggie Green of the city’s public works department says expects the replacement of signs to be complete in the next couple of months.

“Our direction from council is to make the switch in first quarter, the first part of 2019,” Green says. “Our crews are out doing that.”

As of Monday, the signs were switched as far up the boulevard as 59th street.

Credit Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
A worker installs the first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sign in an inaugural ceremony earlier this year.

Green says the city has allocated $60,000 to replace the signs. She says that while the smaller signs can be made by city departments, the larger signs have to be made by an outside company.

Residents have been asking how they can get the Paseo signs that are being taken down. Green says the city is deciding the best way to handle those requests.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson is a reporter at KCUR 89.3 and part of the public radio collaborative Sharing America, covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in Kansas City, St. Louis, Hartford, Connecticut and Portland, Oregon. She can be contacted at Michelle@kcur.org.

Michelle is a reporter covering race, identity and culture and is an assistant talk show producer.
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