Council Renaming Commission Discusses Requirements


A Memphis City Council commission met on Thursday to continue a discussion on how locales are named in the city. The previous meeting was not concluded because they couldn't decide whether a street, etc., could be named after a prestigious person who is still living.

The topic yesterday was more cut and dry. The Renaming Commission made a distinct decision to name things after deceased members of the community who have made a lasting impact in the city, state, or country.

Thelma Crivens, commission member, led the talk about what criteria is required. "The first principle is streets and parks should promote important citywide community values such as respect, unity, and diversity," she said.

Streets, parks, and buildings can be named after living people if they are making a philanthropic donation in honor of that place.

If a person would like to nominate a location name, they must first submit an application to the city council. If an individual is recommended, the application must include a biography of the individual and his or her significant contributions to the city, state, or nation. In addition, there must be proof of community support for the recommendation.

The city's Renaming Commission works with the research team to determine the validity of a request. They scour the nominees' history and work with local universities to determine the context of the naming. The Council has the final say on whether a street name change gets approved.

The Council agreed that there are locations in the city that are still currently in need of renaming. "We can research them and see what the story is behind the street name, and who this guy was because I think we all know there's major ones that need to go," said Councilman Josh Whitehead, speaking in reference to street names that could be discriminatory. 

Ms. Crivens chimed in on the historical complication that could be involved, "For example, because, Virginia was both the home of the Confederacy, and the home of some of our founding fathers, there are different kinds of issues involving each group. We can just look at articles in different papers, or different magazines, and then we will report to the commission, what our findings were based on our review, and how different cities and states are handling the issue," she said.

Atlanta has stipulations on whether to name a locale after a living person, but that person must be 75 years or older.

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