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Cyclists ride through New Orleans to push for name changes to streets

“I just want to see action now. We’re tired of waiting. It’s been too long and it’s time to do this,” said Raymond.

NEW ORLEANS — Taking to their bikes, riders moved through the French Quarter to Mid-City Tuesday night, drawing attention to the names of major streets in New Orleans.

“I think people like good ideas and this just happened to be one of them,” said organizer Mark Raymond.  

That idea is to rename Jefferson Davis Parkway, named for a president of the Confederacy, to Norman Francis Parkway, a president of Xavier University. The other push is renaming Robert E. Lee Boulevard, named after a confederate commander during the Civil War, to Leah Chase Boulevard, to honor an iconic chef. It’s all part of protests happening across the country.

“I think it’s important that we channel our anger of the death of George Floyd and the countless others at the hands of police brutality into something that can be actual change,” said Raymond.

Raymond, who’s with the A.P. Tureaud Legacy Committee, hopes each pedal moves that change to action.

“I just want to see action now. We’re tired of waiting. It’s been too long and it’s time to do this,” said Raymond.  

Wheels are already in motion from the New Orleans city council to rename Jefferson Davis Parkway. Councilmember at large, Helena Moreno says the signs will soon be coming down.

“Those signs, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, were put during a time when the sole intent of putting up these symbols was to lift up white supremacy. It was all part of a campaign and now it’s time to tear that campaign down,” said Moreno.

To riders like Maurice Sisler, it’s about bringing the city together as one.

“New Orleans is a spiritual thing so if you want to have a good spirit you have to do the right thing,” said Sisler.

“We have to be a welcoming city. People should feel like they are safe and supported in our city and in the community,” said Moreno.

A commission from the city will be looking at all types of things across New Orleans. Those include things like street names, statues and even parks. The city council is expected to formally introduce an ordinance to change the name of Jefferson Davis Parkway this Thursday.

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