I don't get it. What is so scary about a street named Cesar Chavez Jr.? Why are we attached to streets named after inanimate objects? It clearly scared some North Portlanders and frightened off the Portland City Council. Now its doing the same thing in Dallas. The city opened up the renaming of "Industrial Blvd (sound familiar?)" to Dallas residents and they got a seemly unpleasant surprise:
Dallas officials' 'uh-oh' moment came when they received the results of their summer survey. Having favored scenic-sounding names such as Riverfront and Trinityview for the waterside development, officials were stunned by the top choice: "Cesar Chavez Boulevard."
Hispanics, who make up 43% of the city's population, had seized the survey as a chance to honor the Latino farm-labor hero. Several other cities, from Albuquerque, N.M., to Milwaukee, had renamed streets for him years ago.
There was an overwhelming vote for "Cesar Chavez Blvd." as a name. Easy decision, right? Change the name, have a party and everyone have a drink. Apparently, it wasn't that easy.
Dallas lawmakers -- less than pleased that the name didn't exactly connote waterfront splendor -- balked, setting off months of wrangling in crowded public forums at City Hall and in heated online debates.
Less than pleased, eh? They ask for a vote, get one and then don't support it because it doesn't "connote waterfront splendor?" Then why ask?
I know there are folks who don't understand why naming a street after Chavez is a big deal. One woman said in a Portland meeting - out loud in front of PEOPLE - that guests of Oregon wouldn't get off of the I-5 freeway because Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez Jr, and Martin Luther King Jr all in a row would "scare people." I was so shocked I couldn't even make my mouth move in protest.
Let's be honest. It's not about the name, its about Latino communities wanting acknowledgment that heroes come in all colors. Latinos want acknowledgment for their hero who was not just a leader for them, but for all of us whether we know it or not. We aren't getting it and Dallas isn't getting it.