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Nancy Mccarthy of The Skanner
Published: 26 April 2006

For now, Portland Boulevard will remain just that: Portland Boulevard, not Rosa Parks Way.

Following a Portland City Council meeting at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center last week, the council decided to delay a decision about renaming the street and perhaps find another way to honor the woman who sparked the civil rights movement.

"The council got an earful" from local clergy members and members of the Piedmont Neighborhood Association, said Promise King, policy manager for City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Saltzman introduced the proposal to the council after hearing from several people that the name change would be appropriate on the boulevard that intersects with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, named after the country's most famous civil rights leader.

He had said earlier that because Portland Boulevard wasn't a state highway or otherwise regulated by the state, the change would be fairly easy. Most of the street is lined with older, well-maintained homes; because there are few businesses on the street, changing the address wouldn'tbedifficult, Saltzman said.

Parks died last October, 50 years after she earned notoriety for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala. city bus to a White man. Her subsequent arrest for violating segregation laws caused Blacks in Montgomery to boycott buses for nearly 13 months. Parks' rebellion became Martin Luther King Jr.'s cause.

"Most folks want to keep Portland Boulevard," Promise King said. "We've agreed that it is a good concept, but for now we're still taking comments."

He said the council would entertain other ideas about how to commemorate Parks.

"We want it to be community-driven; we're waiting for people to make tangible, workable suggestions," King added.

He said Saltzman and his staff would contact more people in the community to find ideas. "The answer will depend on the community input," he said.

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