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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Campus

Calhoun Road officially renamed Martin Luther King Blvd


Calhoun Road

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Calhoun Road will be renamed Martin Luther King Blvd, effective today after a measure suggested by UH President Renu Khator was passed by Houston’s City Council.

In July of this year, Khator wrote a letter to city council member Carolyn Evan-Shabazz, citing the racial underlying of the Calhoun street name. 

“The name of the street on which our university resides should not be counter to the ideals and mission of our community and a university that celebrates diversity and rejects beliefs associated with racial suppression and inequality,” Khator said in the letter. 

The road was named after John C. Calhoun, a former U.S. vice president from 1825-1832, and a well-known defender of slavery in the antebellum South. He called the practice of owning slaves a “positive good.”

In a unanimous city council vote on Sept. 1, the name change of the street was approved. The change, however, could only take effect 90 days after the passing of the measure. 

This change also affects some buildings on the street, like the University Lofts building which houses many UH students.

In an email to residents, University Lofts said the new address for the building will be 4200 Martin Luther King Blvd.  The Baptist Student Ministry was also given a new address, and will now be under 4301 Martin Luther King Blvd.

Back in 2017, the University also had changed the name of the University Lofts, originally named Calhoun Lofts, for similar reasons. 

“This is a significant step forward for the University of Houston,” said UH representative Chris Stipes. “For us, the issue is far more than just a name on a sign. The main street address of our institution— one of the most diverse research universities in the nation— was inextricably tied to a man who was a slave owner and defender of slavery.”

Stipes added how the University upholds values of diversity, and how those values counteract with Calhoun’s beliefs.  

“At UH, we celebrate diversity and reject beliefs associated with racial suppression and inequity,” Stipes said. “It is fitting that the street will honor Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought for equal rights and justice for all.”

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