Committee proposes renaming 2 GR streets after civil rights heroes

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A movement is underway to formally change the names of a pair streets in Grand Rapids after civil rights leaders.

A committee, Moving Ahead for the Remarkable Civil Rights Heroes, is sponsoring the movement. It’s seeking to have Franklin Street changed to Martin Luther King Jr. Street between Oakland Avenue and the boundary with the city of East Grand Rapids. 

It also seeks to change Grandville Avenue to Cesar E. Chavez Avenue between Wealthy Street and Clyde Park Avenue. 

“There are a lot of Hispanos (Hispanics) that live on Grandville and on Franklin. There’s a lot of African Americans and businesses too, ran by African Americans,” said Lupe Ramos-Montigny, who co-chairs MARCH, along with Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack. 

Both historical figures have commemorative designations on the streets of Grand Rapids. 

Grandville Avenue is commemorated as Cesar E. Chavez Way. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is commemorated on Division Avenue.

“Division doesn’t even have one sign up anymore,” Ramos-Montigny said. “They deteriorated and they had to be removed. Grandville Avenue has some signs, but not the whole street.”

MARCH is reaching out to folks in the community about the proposed changes. Virtual meetings will be held April 29 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. The community can attend the meetings through Zoom.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of positive feedback,” Ramos-Montigny said. 

MARCH plans on presenting the proposal to the city commission later this year. 

**Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Womack as a Grand Rapids city commissioner. He is actually a Kent County commissioner. We regret the error, which has been corrected.

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