FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After months of research, a group met with Mayor Tom Henry on Thursday to discuss renaming Calhoun Street after Martin Luther King Jr.
About seven months ago, the MLK Club of Fort Wayne formed a committee with the hope of renaming Calhoun Street, which is named after John Calhoun who was the seventh Vice President of the United States.
“[Calhoun] was not only a slave owner himself, but he was a strong proponent of the institution of slavery,” said Chris Elliot, communications director of MLK Club of Fort Wayne. “He once called it ‘a positive good.'”
Elliot said Calhoun also co-authored the Indian Removal Act which led to numerous tribes being removed from their land and relocated to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears.
“Calhoun, according to our research, never set foot in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It appears that the street is named after him because he was an early supporter of the Wabash Erie Canal,” Elliot said. ” Martin Luther King on the other hand is someone that most people know quite well.”
King also stopped by Fort Wayne in June 1963 to gave a speech.
The group met with Mayor Henry on Thursday to discuss the name change and Elliot said it was a success.
“[Mayor Henry] assured us that he has his full support behind us. And at this point the project continues,” Elliot said.
A spokesperson for the mayor declined to comment and said the meeting was private.
The next step: gather signatures from 60% of Calhoun Street property owners.
“Once we obtain that number, we revisit the issue with the mayor and see if we can get that passed,” Elliot said.