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MLK International Airport? District? Street? Kansas Citians share ideas to honor King

Kansas Citians share ideas for paying homage to MLK

The first public hearing of the MLK Advisory Group was held Tuesday. Kansas Citians shared ideas about how best to honor Martin Luther King Jr. in the city.
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The first public hearing of the MLK Advisory Group was held Tuesday. Kansas Citians shared ideas about how best to honor Martin Luther King Jr. in the city.

How does this sound: Martin Luther King Jr. International Airport?

Or this: the Martin Luther King Jr. District in downtown Kansas City?

Or Martin Luther King Jr. Fountain in Crown Center?

Those were some of the ideas offered at the MLK Advisory Group's first public hearing Tuesday evening at the Linwood YMCA. About two dozen participants offered their suggestions for best honoring the civil rights leader, with a few common themes among them.

Porsha Locke, who grew up on The Paseo, said she'd like to see a tribute to King at the Crown Center fountain, a space "where color and socioeconomic boundaries just don't exist," she said.

"In Kansas City, the color lines are pretty specific and they don't cross often," said Locke, 37. "So finding an intersection that already exists — I think that's an important tribute to King's dream."

Teresa Perry, a volunteer with the NAACP, agreed. She said she could support renaming a street if it "represents (King) through racial boundaries."

LeRoy Glover, a 56-year-old pastor, also emphasized reaching a diverse audience when proposing his idea to rename the airport for King.

"Renaming a street after MLK is noteworthy, but it only bears recognition to those who live in Kansas City" or travel to the area, Glover said.

Glover said renaming Kansas City International Airport for King would make an emphatic statement.

"It's unprecedented," he said. "We're the Show-Me State. Naming a street does not live up to our motto. We're following what others have already done in our country."

Glover opposes a push to rename The Paseo for King, which has drawn support from some area leaders who are seeking signatures to put the proposal on the August ballot.

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Kirk Kincaid supports renaming The Paseo for Martin Luther King Jr. He spoke during a public hearing about how best to honor the civil rights leader in Kansas City. Max Londberg jlondberg@kcstar.com

Kirk Kincaid, 59, supports renaming The Paseo, saying the boulevard "represents an intersection in the city. ... It's the best of the city, best of both worlds."

Another idea was to rename an entire downtown district for King.

"If you make a district Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s district, it will always be spoken of, it will never be forgotten," said Royal Johnson, 70.

He advocated for renaming a downtown district that encompasses government buildings including a courthouse for King.

"That's what he was after when he died: justice," Johnson said.

Others at the hearing said they supported renaming a street for King, such as The Paseo, Prospect or Troost.

All but one of the 11 members of the Advisory Group were on hand to hear the proposals. (Jean Paul Chaurand was absent.)

One member, Stan Archie, said the Advisory Group would weigh the proposals from citizens while keeping in mind those that are "most sustainable, most doable and ... (those) considered a reasonable investment in terms of finances."

The Advisory Group members will recommend several ideas to Mayor Sly James sometime after its third and final public hearing. The group was assembled by James.

Two more public hearings will take place over the next week:

  • 9 a.m. Saturday April 28 at the Kansas City North Community Center, 3930 N.E. Antioch Rd.
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday May 2 at the Westport-Roanoke Community Center, 3601 Roanoke Rd.

Group members also have planned a fourth public session, at which they may discuss possible recommendations. That will be 9 a.m. Saturday, May 12, at the Marlborough Community Center, 8200 The Paseo. Additional sessions are possible.

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