Breaking Brown

August 20, 2015

Applause Erupts After St. Bernard City Council Rejects Renaming Road MLK Blvd.

Applause Erupts After St. Bernard City Council Rejects Renaming Road MLK Blvd.

by Yvette Carnell

To many white Southerners, the Confederate flag is about honoring their ancestors. Yes, those ancestors fought for the right to build an empire of affluence on a pyre of black bodies, but that kinship means something to Southerners who take pride in ‘heritage’, no matter how shaming.

Ever since the Charleston massacre at AME was somehow conflated into a debate over the Confederate flag, a cadre of Southerners have rallied around their symbol. We’ve seen skirmishes, rallies, and even learned that “flag runs” are an actual thing.

What we hadn’t seen, at least until now, is backlash. It seems that residents of St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana are taking aim at the crowning glorify of African-American idols: Martin Luther King Jr.

At a St. Bernard Parish Council meeting Tuesday, the council voted unanimously  against renaming Colonial Blvd. to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. After the vote, the audience, which was mostly opposed to the measure, burst into applause.

What did opposition to the vote boil down to? Basically, my history is more important than your history. From

White opponents tried to sidestep the proposal’s racial significance, painting their opposition as an attempt to preserve the name of a historic street that was named after its one-time Spanish colonizers.   


Rachel Bazile of eastern St. Bernard received the one standing ovation from the audience after she discussed the importance of remembering St. Bernard’s Spanish heritage and saying that keeping Colonial Boulevard was “not a racial issue.”


“History lost leads to history repeated,” she said, concluding with “God bless America!”

Understand me: Black people in Louisiana can’t even get a half mile of road named after a non-violent integrationist civil rights leader. That’s where we are. St. Bernard has its own racist history, but one has to wonder whether the symbolic attack on the Confederate flag has made white communities even more resistant to this sort of public historical integration. One question: Was it worth it?


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3 thoughts on “Applause Erupts After St. Bernard City Council Rejects Renaming Road MLK Blvd.

  1. Rick Manigault says:

    Brilliant article!

  2. AllenShaw says:

    “Was it worth it?” Yes!

    The majority of people in the picture were White and did not want the street renamed. Also no reason was given in this article for renaming the street.

  3. Rick Manigault says:

    AllenShaw So you would rather never have another street named after a black man or women to prevent displays of the Confederate flag? Those whites opposition to the street name change with applause is directly related to the flag controversy. Passive aggression will boil under the surface and the little bit of recognition we have will be slowly taken away.

    The question “was it worth it” will continue to taint any future discussion of public displays. I would say no and expect the flag controversy to be the excuse for removing us and our history from public view to avoid offending whoever. I don’t see people going to a city council meeting denouncing MLK on a street without the confederate flag controversy.

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