White residents showed up in droves to protest the renaming of a tiny, one-half mile stretch of road that runs through a primarily African-American part of a Louisiana community. Sure, whites could have decided to just let black people have this one, but obviously, this was an attack on their “history” and “heritage.”
The debate centered around the potential renaming of Colonial Boulevard, which runs through Violet in the parish of St. Bernard. Violet is the only majority African-American community in the parish –56 percent of homeowners being African-American according to a 2013 census estimate — but the crowd that showed up to debate the name change was only slightly less white than that of one of Donald Trump’s White Power rallies.
“As far as naming it to Martin Luther King, he didn’t live in this parish, he did nothing for this parish, he didn’t even know this parish existed,” said white lady Charlotte O’Connor at the meeting, apparently unaware of who Martin Luther King, Jr., was. The debate often dissolved into race-based arguments for or against the name change — though the African-Americans present focused more on the importance of Dr. King to American history rather than the tired “history” and “heritage” arguments that have become almost expected from the common American cracker.
A bearded white man informed the parish council that they were really pushing him to become a racist. Currently, he says, he’s not one — but if the black people get their way, he is prepared to unleash his bigotry. Also, Bobby Jindal is awesome:
“I’ve never had a racist bone in my body. I’ve worked for a bunch of ’em, been in their houses, been in a lot of your guys’ houses. But if you keep pushing me I will show you my racist ways. [Mayor ] Mitch Landrieu can go to hell. Praise the Lord for Bobby Jindal.”
Another white person argued that the name of the street should remain Colonial to preserve the Spanish colonial heritage of the state — a thinly-veiled excuse not to do anything for the African-American community, while yet another informed everyone that a name change will lead to crime and drugs:
“If you look around the world, every Martin Luther King Boulevard is crime-ridden and drug-ridden. Why the hell would we want that in this parish? Martin Luther King was a great man, and all the streets that are named after him does not reflect the content of that man’s character.”
“St. Bernard has an incredible history. Please do not change it,” another white person argued.
“When those people come together, and those people say, ‘I want to change this street,’ and a majority of those people on that street say that, then I don’t believe that nobody else has a say so,” argued one African-American resident.
“We cannot name a street a half a mile long for Martin Luther King, for somebody who fought for everybody. It wasn’t just because of black or white? The man fought for everybody. He was straight up for everybody,” argued another black resident.
But, ultimately, the all-white council let the white people have what they wanted, and voted against the name change, which 28 of the 34 homes on Colonial Blvd. support.
“90 percent of the people on the block want that name change,” said St. Bernard’s NAACP President Rev. Kevin Gabriel, indicating that the organization will likely be filing a discrimination lawsuit against the parish.
Watch the “not-racists” on parade, below, and remember: It’s about “heritage,” not hate…even if someone promised to “become” a racist if we honor a black man.