MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on name changes in Memphis.
Monday was a day for official name changes in Memphis. And in both instances, the honors are well deserved.
At the old fairgrounds area near Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the city renamed the street formerly known as Home Run Lane in honor of Fred Jones, founder of the Southern Heritage Classic, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary this weekend. The street is now appropriately called Fred Jones Way.
Meanwhile, in downtown Memphis, people gathered at 157 Poplar Avenue for the renaming of the County Office Building to the James Meredith Building. That change honors the man who integrated Ole Miss in 1962. Four years later, he started a march against fear from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi, to encourage more African American voter registrations. Meredith was shot and wounded in DeSoto County. But Dr. Martin Lither King Jr. took up the march and completed the historic journey down U.S. Highway 51.
Both ceremonies Monday were indeed moving, and for the honorees quite humbling. Yet, I still say the county commission did the smart thing last month by changing its renaming policy to allow more citizen input and greater transparency.
If I had my wish, something of substance in Memphis would be named in memory of trailblazing journalist Ida B. Wells. That’s not to take away from the accomplishments of James Meredith and Fred Jones. I’m just saying future name changes should include more gender equity. And that’s my point of view.