It was about Romeo’s linage – the house of Montague – and was meant to express that a name means nothing, changes nothing;
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
While true for a rose, Charles E. Coulter, a former Star Opinion Page Editor, in an editorial that ran yesterday, said that renaming Troost after Martin Luther King would make it seem less like the racial and crime dividing line that it now is and would essentially make us co-equal with the other great cities of our nation who already have an MLK Blvd.
I found the piece so inane I called Star editorial page VP Miriam Pepper to see if I could submit an opposing point of view. Pepper told me the newspaper “doesn’t do point/counter point” and my only alternative was to submit a Letter to the Editor, limited to 200 words.
I thought that the Star specialized in giving both sides of a story, but here we have Coulter, a black dude and former employee with an inside track to Pepper and the Star with a PRO Troost/MLK name change piece. He gets three headlines, a pic and 400+ words. While lowly Paul Wilson, internationally known scribe and white guy with an opposing point of view, has to take his chances by submitting a Letter to the Editor with a 200 word limit.
I can’t even introduce myself and the topic in 200 words, so in two words borrowed from that great African American philosopher, George Clinton, I say, “Funk Dat!” I’ll take it up with the KCC readership.
Dr. King was shot April 4th, 1968, on the balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, as his mistress was hiding in his room. Yes, I said it, King had several mistresses. But unlike our current day MLK imitators turned race baiters, Rev Jesse and Rev Al, Reverend King actually had a church and preached out of it.
And to be fair, while not lily white in his philandering, King was no match for the now infamous house of Camelot and JFK.
Comic Chris Rock isn’t a huge fan of MLK named streets, stating in his act; “If a friend calls you on the telephone and says they’re lost on Martin Luther King Boulevard and they want to know what they should do, the best response is ‘Run!’ ”
Nearly 800 US cities have streets named after MLK, Georgia ranking highest with over 100 in their State alone. They range from Akron to Austin, Cleveland to Camden, Dover to Dallas, Ithaca to Indy and Benton Harbor to Boston (although Boston’s MLK is only .6 miles long).
Yet for some reason or other the idea struck Coulter afresh.
“On a recent road trip with family members to the South, I was struck by the number of communities that had dedicated streets, boulevards and avenues to Dr. King. I was again reminded how Kansas City had failed to step up.”
Failed to step up?
“Tulsa, Okla., the city where I was born and grew up, renamed North Cincinnati Avenue last Fall in honor of Dr. King. This was no small feat: The name change affected more than 50 blocks of residences and businesses.”
Ah yes, it does affect businesses, Charles. It affects the cost for street signs, stationary and letterhead changes, invoices, packing slips and anything associated with the business that has its address on it. Just the kind of superfluous expense struggling mom and pops need in today’s economy.
Regardless, Coulter contends, “The advantages to the city would vastly outweigh the few disadvantages.”
“But more valuable reasons exist for adding a Martin Luther King Boulevard to Kansas City’s landscape,” Coulter continues. “If done right, it would again demonstrate this city’s desire to move past its segregated past and break down old barriers. If done right, it could be a powerful symbolic gesture.”
A rose by any other name?
“But might progress along one of Kansas City’s major north-south thoroughfares have a better chance if the street were named for a champion of peace, justice and racial harmony?”
Why not just change the name of Troost to Gold Grilled Utopia? Let’s see if that makes an even bigger difference.
Most any town you go to, MLK marks the dividing line in the city, just as Troost does today. Martin Luther King attempted to unify the races, he wanted a man measured by the content of his character, not the color of his skin. So why take our current East-West dividing line, like so many other cities have, and name it after him?
In your scribe’s humble opinion, that’s analogous to saying, “Here’s the salt; here’s the wound, start rubbing!”
If we have to do this to keep up with the other 700 cities who went before us, why not pick a unifying East to West street? You want to show unification, give me an MLK that traverses our city from side to side, something that ties us all together. Not something that divides us.
Take 63rd Street. It goes from the butt crack of Mission Hills, all the way across our city to the armpit of Grandview - from the best of the best to the worst of the worst with everything in between. Think unification.
It’s simple, I have a dream.
The first step being to start a petition, get Clay Chastain back in town. Have him go from grocery store to grocery store from Mission Hills (Prairie Village) to Ward Parkway to start with. Tell the residents we’re going to change their street name from 63rd to MLK Blvd. Let’s see how many of those residents demonstrate the content of character and sign up for that one.