Ordinary Street Names Essay

1767 Words 8 Pages
The renaming of streets “often reflect larger social (power) disputes about who has authority to create, define, interpret, and represent collective pasts through space.” Through the naming of streets, Black activists and citizens in America are often claiming space in American landscapes and defying racism all in one movement. Ordinary street names bring history into a tangible and familiar way for many Americans. Sociologists Robin Wagner-Pacifici and Barry Schwartz stated, “Memorial devices are not self-created; they are conceived and built by those who wish to bring to consciousness the events and people that others are more inclined to forget.” People want to memorialize marginalized groups specifically because they are overlooked and often purposefully ignored. Changing 12th Street to Rosa Parks Boulevard is part of the discussion around who is allowed to be remembered and how, and a part of the effort to ensure the representation of Black Americans in history and into the future.
Streets named after civil rights leaders defy racism. Through the commemoration of African American civil rights leaders, African Americans are honoring their historical achievements. In a less obvious way, they are
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They work as memorials, which is why people want them to reflect their communities. Changing a street name to commemorate Black civil rights activists does not solve racial tensions or absolve hundreds of years of oppression, but it does give representation to minorities. Moreover, naming streets after influential Black Americans challenges those who attempt to erase a history to be proud of and makes it difficult to ignore what Black Americans have overcome and how they continue to succeed despite continued racism. Rosa Parks Boulevard is one street of many participating in the ongoing battle against white supremacy, and the representation and futures of Black

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