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Kansas City mayor pushes to rename fountain that commemorates 'racial division'

The mayor of Kansas City, Mo., said he supports an effort to rename a fountain that commemorates a former city developer who barred minorities from living in wealthy neighborhoods.

“No person accelerated white flight, redlining, and racial division in the Kansas City area more than J.C. Nichols,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) said in a statement to The Associated Press, referring to the developer commemorated by the fountain.

“The time has long passed that we remove Kansas City’s memorials to his name,” Lucas added.

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Chris Goode, a member of the Board of Parks and Recreation, said that he sent a memo last week to fellow board members and the mayor’s office asking them to consider renaming the J.C. Nichols fountain and parkway that runs through Country Club Plaza. 

“The fountain named in his honor, as well as the adjoining parkway allow racism to take center stage in our most photographed, valued and visited destination in Kansas City. It says to the diverse tax payers of our community, along with visitors from throughout the country in very obvious terms; racism is a norm we are not ready to truly eradicate,” Goode wrote, according to a copy of the memo he shared on Facebook

“The time has come for us to stop turning a blind eye towards racism of past and present,” Goode  added. “There is no immediate resolution to racism, that of which has been deeply embedded for over 400 years into the fabric of this country. We can however, make a collective decision to simply do the right thing, now.”

The fountain has become a gathering spot for many recent protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, the AP reports. 

The park board said it would schedule two public comment sessions in the next 30 days before voting on the request to change the name of the fountain, according to the AP. 

The push to rename the fountain comes as officials nationwide are removing statues and commemorations of controversial figures amid the protests over racial inequality sparked by Floyd’s death. 

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Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has ordered the removal of a large statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but a judge temporarily blocked the governor’s order

In Philadelphia, officials removed a statue honoring the late former Mayor Frank Rizzo last week in a decision the city’s mayor said was meant to acknowledge Rizzo’s mistreatment of African American and LGBT communities during his time in office.

The protests have even spread beyond the U.S. During a demonstration in the U.K, protesters pulled down a statue of British slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan later announced a commission to “review and improve diversity.” The commission will review landmarks in the city, including statues and street names.