Campus News

Students say MLK Blvd name change isn’t enough

Calhoun Rd., now known as MLK Blvd.

Students said the renaming of Calhoun Road to Martin Luther King Blvd isn’t enough of a step forward. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

Months after the renaming of Calhoun Road to Martin Luther King Blvd, students said this name change isn’t enough to address social issues.

Some students, like English graduate student Aris Brown, feel as though changes regarding the surrounding community should involve residents over students when it comes to connections.

“I’m personally not a big fan of liberal changes,” Brown said. “I’m more interested in actual and physical change led by community leaders, residents and people who have long generational roots in Third Ward, as opposed to students and people who work at UH.”

While other people feel that the change from Calhoun to Martin Luther King has good intentions, some think that it is not enough to solve the larger issues at hand.

“It’s a start, but it’s not enough, as we know as they say Black voices need to be heard,” said geophysics PhD student Divine Kalu. “I mean if you don’t drive you won’t even know the name has been changed, so it doesn’t really have a direct impact on the students, except those that use the road and stuff.

Despite the Calhoun Road name change, controversial names are still present on campus, most notably the Roy G. Cullen College of Engineering which was named after Hugh Roy Cullen.

Cullen was a firm believer in the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine and showed his biases most notably in the way he donated to the formerly segregated colleges UH and Texas Southern University.

With some buildings on campus still named after figures such as Cullen, students like Kalu are left to speculate if the road name change was performative or sincere. 

“Honestly, only time can tell,” Kalu said. “Let’s see if they do more changes or if it’s just only for political reasons.”

Most students agreed on the fact that the name change was a good start but heavily emphasized the need to follow through on these ideals.

“It’s not the end all be all, there is so much more than the University can do,” said journalism junior Dioliveth Nsofor. “One thing, in particular, is to help the percentage of graduation rates for Hispanics and Blacks here at the University. This is a Hispanic serving school and most of the kids that go here are first-generation students and I feel like they can do a lot better at amplifying their voices and clubs for those underserved students.”

Not only do students like Brown feel as though more is needed to be done for better racial harmony here on campus, but overall education and empathy are required.

“I think wanting to be intentional about the culture and climate we want to keep is important,” Brown said. “Do we want to consider who’s been affected by these names and legacies and do we want to get the community together to decide what that looks like in the future?”

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