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Tulane Ave. among dozens of New Orleans streets that could be renamed soon

Paul Tulane was a major donor to the Confederate States. The commission has suggested renaming the street for “Tootie” Montana, the Mardi Gras Indian chief.

NEW ORLEANS — Tulane Avenue is among the streets that could get a new name in the future.

The goal of the City Council’s Street Renaming Commission is to remove anything that honors people affiliated with the Confederacy or white supremacy.

Paul Tulane was a major donor to the Confederate States. The commission has suggested renaming the street for “Tootie” Montana, the Mardi Gras Indian chief.

It’s a process that has some concerned about public input after the Street Renaming Commission voted Tuesday night on its list of 37 recommended name changes for streets and other public places.

“This was a robust process that has basically coupled the ideas of public input with historical recommendations, and now we’ve come to this crossroads where we’re about to pass our recommendations as the commission on to the council,” said Mark Raymond, the commission’s vice chairman.

That combination of public input and ideas from historians working with the Street Renaming Commission means Palmer Park -- named in honor of Pastor Benjamin Palmer, who helped state leaders secede from the union -- could be renamed.

One idea: renaming it for Judge John Minor Wisdom, an appeals court judge whose rulings helped to advance the civil rights movement.

In Algiers, several streets that honor Mayor Martin Behrman are being considered for renaming.

Behrman was a member of the Regular Democratic Organization, which promoted segregation.

The most prominent place that could get a new name is Lee Circle. The commission has recommended renaming it for Leah Chase.

Chase was known as much for her working during the civil rights movement as her Creole cooking.

Charles Marsala, a New Orleans author and historian, said he hopes its location a block away from the World War II Museum means it could be a place to honor veterans. He proposes calling it Victory Circle.

Marsala, who requested to be on the commission, envisions it as a place where a Blue Star memorial could honor those who fought in wars. His idea would also honor first responders and the USO.

“Duncan Plaza at City Hall could be where we honor civil rights activists. So we put together a master plan for New Orleans that this (Lee Circle) becomes veterans, City Hall becomes civil rights and the French Quarter we’d set up a spot to honor the musicians.”

In Lakeview, where several streets are recommended to be renamed for four enslaved people who escaped, the civic association sent out an email to its members saying that happened without any input from the neighborhood.

“Whether you are in favor of renaming the streets or opposed to it, we need to make out voices heard in the process,” Trey Babin, president of the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association wrote.

Raymond, the Street Renaming Commission vice chairman, said anything is still possible since the report is only recommendations.

He said the City Council and Planning Commission will have to approve any final changes, and he said the Street Renaming Commission is still seeking public input.

“This is absolutely not a done deal. This was the initial draft recommendation from the commission,” he said. “We’re still doing a lot of public outreach. We want to hear as much as possible as we develop our final recommendations.”

The Commission is taking feedback on its website: nolaccsrc.org.

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