Kansas City voters strip Martin Luther King from street name

Residents of Kansas City, Missouri, have voted to strip the name of Martin Luther King from a main boulevard in the city (AFP Photo/Drew Angerer)

Washington (AFP) - Nine months after a boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri, was renamed for US civil rights leader Martin Luther King, voters have decided to switch back to its historic name.

The 10-mile (16-kilometer) street was originally known as The Paseo but was changed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard in an 8-4 vote by the city council in January.

A group called "Save the Paseo" launched a drive to reverse the move and nearly 70 percent of the voters who took part in Tuesday's election agreed that the boulevard should revert to its original name.

According to the Kansas City Star, about 100 street signs will now have to be taken down.

Diane Euston, a member of Save the Paseo, told the newspaper the group felt that King should be honored but the city council had ignored a rule that 75 percent of residents agree before any changes are made to street names.

On its website, Save the Paseo said its goal is to "preserve the name of KC's most historic boulevard and find a way to honor Dr King that brings the city together."

According to the Star, Kansas City is one of the only major cities in the United States without a street named for King, who was assassinated in 1968.

Reverend Vernon Howard, president of the Kansas City chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group founded by King, said it was a "shameful day for Kansas City."

"We are one of the five most violent and crime ridden cities in this nation," Howard said in a statement.

"The blood of our children flows through the streets. Yet the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize Winner was rejected by most of us as a symbol of who we are in this town."