Birmingham City Council has change of heart on 16th Street renaming

Resolution for BLM Blvd. pulled in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A resolution to rename a historic street in Birmingham’s downtown, will not move forward.

The Birmingham City Council was scheduled to meet tomorrow to consider renaming a portion of 16th Street North to “Black Lives Matter Boulevard.”

But after speaking with local activists and community members, City Council President, William Parker, had a change of heart.

Birmingham has a long and powerful history in the fight against racial injustice and equality, much of which began on 16th street and the 4th avenue business district.

Local activists said the idea to rename part of the street was valiant, but misguided.

“I think that we need to focus on what truly needs revolution,” said Community Organizer, Celida Soto.

“And that’s again, our public policy systems, our education systems, our access to food, again redefining our policing tactics and other alternative measures to address more vital needs in our communities of color,” Soto said.

In an open letter to Birmingham leaders, Soto, and several other community organizers, expressed their concerns with the name change saying,

“Any alterations to this holy ground are an act of violent erasure of Birmingham’s global legacy of Human Rights and Liberation. Renaming 16th Street would disrespect the very movement that undergirds this current fight for justice.”

A message Council President, William Parker, took to heart.

“I think the lesson learned in all of this is that we live in America and we live in a democracy,” Parker said.

“And so, we all have an opportunity to express our viewpoints. The people are the city and so we’re going to work together with all of the different stakeholders as we work together collaboratively,” Parker said.

Soto said she hopes this change of heart will be a true collaborative effort to design the next steps in this movement for change.

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