Council may ponder renaming downtown street to honor MLK

Monday, April 18, 2011 at 1:53pm

At-large Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard is considering sponsoring legislation that would re-name a major downtown thoroughfare, perhaps Fifth Avenue North, after Martin Luther King Jr.

Maynard, the council’s only African-American at-large member, said Tennessee cities such as Chattanooga, Clarksville and Knoxville all have streets named after the revered civil rights leader. Nashville, despite its historically significant sit-ins during the spring of 1960 and its role in Freedom Rides one year later, currently lacks a roadway with King’s name.

“Nashville is one of the few major Southern cities in the nation that does not have a major thoroughfare that runs through downtown that is named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Maynard said.

“I’m in the preliminary stages of looking at re-naming one of our major thoroughfares in honor of not only Dr. Martin Luther King, but also to commemorate and celebrate the civil rights movement here in Nashville.”

Maynard confirmed one street he’s looking at is downtown’s Fifth Avenue. In 1960, the block of Fifth between Union and Church streets served as the center of Nashville’s sit-in movement, with blacks staging protests at lunch counters inside establishments such as Walgreen’s, Woolworth, S.H. Kress and elsewhere. Mocked by white hecklers, protestors were removed by police against their will.

“Fifth Avenue is a major thoroughfare, and it’s also important historically,” Maynard said. “It’s where the sit-ins took place. That is a major thoroughfare that would be very appropriate to be re-named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

Maynard, who is up for re-election in August, said he’s unsure of the length of a downtown corridor he would propose being named after King. He also said he’s still weighing the appropriate form of legislation, adding that he plans to discuss the matter with Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors and other council members. He has no timeframe. 

“The timeframe is based on my ability to talk with my fellow council members, the vice mayor, the business community, to talk to neighborhood organizations and to talk to the community about it,” he said. 

Of note, Nashville is home to Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School.

39 Comments on this post:

By: BlackWidow on 4/18/11 at 12:45

Will someone puh-leez stop this nonsense! Next thing you know they'll want to change James Robertson Parkway to Barack Obama Blvd.!

By: RTungsten on 4/18/11 at 12:57

"And I don't care where you are in America, if you're on Martin Luther King Boulevard, there's some violence going down." - Chris Rock

By: slacker on 4/18/11 at 1:24

Renaming streets and roads, should be last on our city leaders priority list.

By: FLeFew on 4/18/11 at 1:40

We just renamed Metro Center Boulevard and 8th Avenue. We have named a Public Building for a living person for the first time in history. I think we have done more than enough.

By: Booman on 4/18/11 at 1:44

another one of the reasons why city leaders can't get crap done, they are too busy with incidental BS like this!

“Fifth Avenue is a major thoroughfare, and it’s also important historically,” Maynard said.

By: slacker on 4/18/11 at 1:59

Maynard's so called timeframe, should include his re-election or defeat.
Probably never crossed his mind.

By: shinestx on 4/18/11 at 2:46

Oh yes... that's really what this city needs. Actually... it's just a cheap ploy for this councilman to appeal to his base, all under threat of being called racist if one votes against it. I say show some guts and say enough with all this hodge-podge renaming of streets. Dem-wits!

By: shinestx on 4/18/11 at 2:49

I have an idea... If this guy wants to rename a street for MLK, he can rename Rosa Parks Blvd.

Then next years, if he wants to rename a street for Muhammed Ali, he can rename MLK... then the next year he can rename Muhammed Ali to Malcolm X.

I guess you're a racist if you oppose all this expensive street renaming... and the resulting patchwork of names.

By: capt4chris on 4/18/11 at 2:51

I'm fine with them naming things, just not a street. Downtown are confusing enough & it helps having the grids streets/avenues labeled as such. 8th Ave is still confusing as Rosa L Parks.

By: RTungsten on 4/18/11 at 2:53

Can we call it Maynard's Mile? It might be the last thing his name is on before he's voted out of office.

While we are at it, can we name Second Avenue "Jose, Jim and Jack" for the 3 wisemen? Maybe we can lease the name out to different alcohol companies to get some much needed income for the city. Sweet Tea Vodka Ave has a nice ring to it.

First Avenue should be called Mother Nature Way because it was flooded in May 2010. If that doesn't work, we can call it Homeless Row.

Third Avenue should be called Thomas Jefferson Avenue because he was the third US president and is considered "important to history".

Fourth Avenue should be called the Gateway to Mexico for it's connection to Nolesville Rd.

By: slacker on 4/18/11 at 3:03

And if you elect me, I'll rename a street.

By: airvols on 4/18/11 at 3:21

I totally agree it's time to stop naming these streets and stop confusing our visitors, heck confusing us. The one thing you know is 5th comes between 4th and 6th, except in this case. Geee stop the madness!

By: steelergirl on 4/18/11 at 7:05

hahaha RTungsten - thats a funny comment, im still smiling. I seem to remember every state ive lived in has tons of MLK stuff, roads, schools, geez even a holiday...its kinda odd to me that the very people who cry racist all the time, are the ones always wanting to acknowledge they are black and need to be different. I like how streets seem to have something in common, like in a subdiv. they all have tree names, etc. Sorry, but I think these people all are dead, and yes we honor them, but the past is the past, let it stay there.

By: Vuenbelvue on 4/18/11 at 9:10

Don't be so hard on At-large Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard guys. He must be in re-election and trying to gain some traction. I never understood what Rosa Parks had to do with Nashville and wondered if the pioneer Mr. Demobreum rolled over in his grave. After all 8th Avenue was on the original city maps. Politicians!

By: ratizbad on 4/18/11 at 10:53

jerry maynard who's that.. mlk 's cousin or what... Please get a life dude using mlk wont get you elected

By: govskeptic on 4/19/11 at 5:06

Councilman Maynard has decided to slow down on giving away taxpayer dollars
and now turns his attention to giving away long lasting Street Names. Does an
At-Large candidate have to be giving something away (that doesn't belong to them
and not from their own pocket) to keep their base happy? About about helping
solve some REAL problems and stop creating them.

By: gdiafante on 4/19/11 at 6:04

I think I need to run for public service in this state. It's the only job that doesn't involve a doppler radar where accuracy, honesty and competance isn't a job requirement.

By: PKVol on 4/19/11 at 7:21

The city is in the process of extending a road between the Centennial Park area up to North Nashville. Why not wait and name this new road in honor of Dr. King. No one will be out any money due to changing a street name and no one will have to learn a new name for an old street and no one will be confused by the name of the new road.

By: budlight on 4/19/11 at 7:25

PKVol, you are too logical. The more complicated an issue, the more the politicians can roll in the votes -- or so they think.

By: SirKnight on 4/19/11 at 7:29

We already have one of the highest-ranking shcolastic public high schools in the nation named after MLK (thank God, my son goes there). There are only FIVE high schools in the nation named after this great man.

I say this with all reverence to his accomplishments and contributions to American race relations, but Nashville HAS paid homage to him in this city. Jerry Maynard needs to take his cause to some other town that has not recognized him in any way.

By: SirKnight on 4/19/11 at 7:30

Please pardon my typo. ...scholastic!

By: LordInfamous on 4/19/11 at 7:56

Glad to see everyone minus @shinestx has real logical reasons against naming the St. MLK.

By: wasaw on 4/19/11 at 8:19

We all feel your pain, Mr. Maynard. Isn't it sad that the black community has NO other individual in their entire history to commemorate. As the wife and I drive through southern towns, we are constantly reminded of what little one man did, and become famous. Oh that's right, he had a dream. It don't take a lot to make some folks happy.

Mr. Maynard, the sad fact of your proposal is that your community spends all of it's time looking back to the past and not looking towards the future. Black children require so much more educational services, just to reach the first grade. A majority of those not graduating in Nashville schools are black, And for three or four decades, the majority of black children have been born to out-of-wedlock mothers and will never even know their father.

But hey, Nashville's only black councilman-at-large wants to rename a Nashville street. Now, that's what you call progress. Come on Mr. Maynard, do something productive! Don't be a copycat. Do something that will actually help your people. Go into your neighborhood, with protection of course, and speak to these young girls and explain to them the penalties for pregancies out of marriage. That's your real black problem, Mr. Maynard. Not a misnamed street.

So far as I've observed Mr. Maynard, you are a typical politician. You are a "Yes Man" for the mayor. You have NO answers for the problems. But hey Mr. Maynard, go ahead and rename that street, Your folks lives will be so much better afterwards.

You chose such a great time;just before the election, Dean can gather all the other black politicians who are sucking on the public's tit and have a giant gathering on 5th Ave. Hooray for Nashville.!

By: nash615 on 4/19/11 at 8:26

Good to see there's no technology gap leaving the racists in Nashville behind.

I can always count on 3 feet of comments on any story that doesn't require a high school education to read and which lets the cracker faction air out its retarded conspiracy theories. Yay Nashville.

By: RTungsten on 4/19/11 at 9:07

How's that Obama vote working out for you, nash615?

By: webblady on 4/19/11 at 9:30

It's always good to see how racist and prejudice people with little narrow minds are in this city. I didn't see this many comments on the $500 million dollar convention center that's being built in a city that cannot support the infrastructure as it is. I suppose if he wanted to name it Sundquist or McWherter Boulevard, the comments from these would be "how soon can we start." As for you RTungsten, how's that Haslam vote working for you? The robbers are not all Black you know. Unless you live in a bubble or all your relatives are rich, it won't take long for the chickens to come home to roost. And wasaw in case you haven't been out of your neighborhood lately; the majority of the teen pregnancies now are WHITE girls and some by BLACK men. How do you like that?

By: Ingleweird on 4/19/11 at 10:22

Of course, I can't speak for Nash615, but I'm still glad I voted for Obama; my conscience is clear. Are you really so pathetic that you need to boost your ego by dumping on the homeless and Mexicans? You probably think of yourself as a Christian. I don't think Jesus or T. Jefferson would like you very much.

I'm all for re-naming Union St, but not numbered avenues.

By: RTungsten on 4/19/11 at 11:29

@ webblady: Actually, that Haslam vote is working out pretty well so far. Thanks for asking.

@Ingleweird: dumping on the homeless and Mexicans, eh? I guess all the other posters talking about MLK are OK in your eyes, funny how that works out. And what do you have against Union Street?

By: Loretta Bridge on 4/19/11 at 2:56

They have renamed many streets in Nashville so why the big deal......because it is changing it to honor a Black person. In the interest of saving time and money why not
just nominate all the names they want to give to streets and do it all at once. Next they
will have to go through all this for a McWherter street. No big deal just don't waste so much time and money on such little stuff.

By: gofer on 4/19/11 at 6:59

"Black and Hispanic women have the highest teen pregnancy rates (126 and 127 per 1,000 women aged 15–19, respectively); non-Hispanic whites have the lowest rate (44 per 1,000)." Source Guttmacher Institute for Sexual Studies

Stop replacing street signs with new names. If a street is to be renamed, make it a new street. Imagine all the maps out there that would be screwed up.

By: political1iam on 4/19/11 at 11:01

Jerry, Jerry, shame ,shame, you are in the Metro Council not the do nothing State Legislature.Deal with real issues, there are enough of those that you don't have to manufacture one.

By: courier37027 on 4/19/11 at 11:53

Rename Belle Meade Boulevard to MLK, Jr. Boulevard.

By: NewYorker1 on 4/20/11 at 8:10

I hate when city leaders bring MLK's name up in cities such as Nashville where racism is still thriving and a common way of life for the majority.

By: pjsteelman on 4/20/11 at 9:03

How about Ralph Abernathy BLVD? Is MLK the only rable rouser to get a street named after him? How about JFK Street...or LBJ Avenue? Maybe we can name a street after Bobby Kennedy? Would people get upset if we named one after Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan? Let's get original here. How about Nashville being the ONLY city without an MLK BLVD? Let's do something different?

By: NewYorker1 on 4/20/11 at 1:21

Why doesn't Nashville name some of it's streets after legendary country musicians like Loretta Lynn Blvd or Conway Titty Lane?

By: budlight on 4/20/11 at 1:58

New Yorker, it's because they want to forget that Country Music put Nashville aka/Smashville on the proverbial map.

Also, every business on 5th avenue should call their council person and threaten to recall the election if they do this. It will be costly to the businesses who have stationery, flyers, brochures, business cards, phone book ads, etc.

And to think, we all elect these ya-hoos from local gov-ment up to the Federal level. I mailed my tax burden monday to the con-artists in Washington. I hope next year I can get a refund.

By: NewYorker1 on 4/20/11 at 3:11

Your "tax burden"? LOL don't you just love watching your hard-earned money being spent to protect countries in the Middle East while school kids here are being shot by friendly gun fire. Don't you love watching your hard-earned tax dollars spent at Kroger's by non-citizens that came here and had babies and now get to live off your money. Oh, and don't forget about the folks in prison for murder that gets free healthcare and dental work when most working citizens can't afford it.

And we wonder why we are in such a financial meltdown.

By: NewYorker1 on 4/20/11 at 3:28

I like Patsy Cline Parkway.

By: PLBR on 7/5/11 at 11:54

Unfortunately people see MLK street on the map and know it's a bad dangerous neighborhood to stay away from. People reap what they sow, but it's so sad to see such a great mans name dishonored this way. He didn't fight with his life to have it thought of as a gun, crime, lowlife and drug infested area