Image by Oliver Weidmann from Pixabay

This spring, the street naming decision will be made and our suggestion for Lee Circle does not seem to be in the mix.

The debate over renaming 37 streets, parks and public places in New Orleans that currently honor Confederates and segregationists is expected to start in earnest in the coming months. Members of the New Orleans City Council said Friday that they plan to take up the issue when they are once-again able to hold in person meetings, which will allow for more public participation than the virtual hearings now in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. The current hope is that an ebb in infections and increasing vaccination rates will allow for in-person meetings later this spring, with the renaming issue expected to be brought to the floor in May or June. “I don’t feel comfortable doing this until we’re back in chambers,” said Council member Joe Giarrusso, who represents Lakeview and other areas in the western-most portion of the city. “This is an issue that touches neighborhoods and the city and so its important for people to be able to participate in the process if they want to.”

The street naming is a fairly new idea as it started after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. There was a nationwide uprising and this was a part of the realization of the wrongs of celebrating Confederate named streets and buildings.

The City Council Street Renaming Commission, made up of residents that council members appointed to study the issue, came out with their final recommendations last month and published its final report earlier this week. Those recommendations include rededicate Lee Circle as Égalité Circle and rename Robert E. Lee Boulevard for Allen Toussaint. The expectation is that council members and their staffs will spend the months between now and when the issue is formally taken up reaching out to neighborhood groups and gauging their take on the new names, said Andrew Sullivan, chief of staff to Council member Kristin Gisleson Palmer. Palmer’s office has taken the lead on managing the renaming process. “Absolutely we are going to have this public input and we have worked as had as we can within the confines of the pandemic to broadcast our meetings, but all of us, I think, are excited to engage with the public in a face-to-face manner so the fact that we’re getting there is exciting stuff and only going to make this a better process,” Sullivan said.

The city Planning Commission will receive the suggestions from the various area representatives so there is still the possibility for changes. Even after the Planning Commission makes their decision the city council can still overrule those decisions.

Street Renaming in the Spring. Is our Cause a Lost Cause?
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