Recommendations for renaming New Orleans streets that currently honor Confederate officials or segregationists will be given one more pass and another public hearing before they are sent to the City Council for a decision. The council’s Street Renaming Commission expects to finalize its report after a mid-March meeting at which it will take more public input on the almost 40 roadways and parks for which it has decided on alternative names. The changes, recommended in an initial report in late November, are part of a process put in place by the City Council after protests against racism and police brutality erupted around the United States this past summer.nola.com
The changes submitted largely name civil rights leaders or name associated with New Orleans history. The report has not been released but few changes and possibly some tweaks will be made.
Commission chair Karl Conner said Wednesday he did not expect significant changes in the final version of the report. But he held out the possibility of some tweaks. “It won’t look drastically different other than where we change some of the substance based on the information we’ve gotten since it was drafted initially,” Conner said.
STREETS AND PARK NAMES THAT COULD CHANGE: A commission considering renaming places in New Orleans that honor Confederates and White supremacists will start with a list of 25 streets and three parks identified by researchers at the New Orleans Public Library. The commission will now gather more information on those streets and the people they honor and discuss potential alternative names.
Some streets have received more than one re-naming suggestion and one thought is to take one street and make different parts have different names. The city Planning Commission does not like this concept the the City Council can overrule their decision.
The commission has also received recommendations to divide some of the more prominent streets, picking different names depending on the neighborhood – an idea with significant racial overtones. For example, the commission’s current recommendation is to rename Robert E. Lee Boulevard for musician Allen Toussaint, but an alternative would call it Toussaint in the Black neighborhoods of Gentilly and Hibernia or Lake Boulevard in the majority-white areas of Lakeview. “I think we have to be cautious that we don’t inadvertently create a sense of a dual system or a dual city here. … It may indicate in a broader sense that we’re a divided city,” Conner said. Alternatives to renaming Lee Circle for chef Leah Chase were also proposed, including Bulbancha, an indigenous name for the New Orleans area, and reverting to its pre-Lee name: Tivoli Circle. Commission and city officials have said it is not clear whether the roadway was ever formally named Lee Circle.
Lee Circle was one name where 90 comments said to keep the name.
“I would say to you that your definition of heroic differs greatly from the majority of the people who live in this city,” Conner said, in response to those comments. He also decried those against naming streets for people who fought for equal rights “as opposed to people whose biggest accomplishment can be summed up in their fight to enslave their fellow human beings.”
And so we wait for the Planning Commission and the City Council to act.