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KC Parks Board votes unanimously to remove J.C. Nichols name from parkway and fountain

AngieR
AngieR
 2020-07-02

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It’s official. In a meeting earlier this week, the Kansas City Parks Board unanimously voted to rename J.C. Nichols Parkway and the J.C. Nichols Fountain.

The idea of renaming the locations has come up many times in the past but gained more traction recently in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the international protests highlighting policing practices in the United States.

No decision has been made for permanently renaming the street and the fountain, although there have been suggestions to name them both for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For now, the J.C. Nichols Parkway signs will be replaced with signs reading “Mill Creek Parkway.” Before a final decision is made, the Parks Board plans to take suggestions from the public.

Thanks to his part in developing both residential and commercial real estate, including the Plaza, Nichols undeniably has a big role in Kansas City history. That role has come under more scrutiny in recent years, however, as his use of racial covenants to keep black people out of white neighborhoods has been more widely acknowledged. Such covenants were widely copied across the country and served to keep people of color out of thousands of communities.

Much of the pushback now as in the past has been centered on the argument that such renaming is nothing more than an effort to rewrite or erase history. That argument has largely been rejected, including by the family of J.C. Nichols. Earlier this week, the family and the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation announced that they support the renaming efforts.

Marc Callison, grandson of Miller Nichols, said, “This is a defining moment for our city. Our family stands squarely behind the spirit of diversity, equality, and social justice that has taken hold in our region and in our nation. My grandfather, Miller, taught us these values. The best way we knew to communicate them was to say to Kansas Citians from every corner of this community, ‘Kansas City, the Nichols family stands with you.’”

The foundation also announced that they will continue to support the maintenance of the fountain, and will be donating $100,000 to the City of Fountains Foundation.

(Photo by Americasroof, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1149921)

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