LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Council poised to rename 34th Street for Louis Coleman


The Louisville Metro Council is expected on Thursday evening to vote to change the name of most of 34th Street to honor the Rev. Louis Coleman, the sometimes controversial late civil-rights activist.

The ordinance, co-sponsored by Metro Council members Judy Green, D-1st District, and Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5th, would change the name of 34th Street from Market Street south to DuValle Drive in the Park DuValle neighborhood to Louis Coleman Jr. Drive.

Under a compromise worked out by the two sponsors, about six blocks of 34th Street north of Market, including the section that goes through the Portland neighborhood, would remain 34th Street. Many Portland residents have objected to changing the name.

Coleman, the longtime director of the Justice Resource Center, died in 2008 at age 64. He generated frequent controversy as he crusaded passionately, often carrying a bullhorn, for economic and social justice causes.

Tony Hyatt, spokesman for the Democratic majority caucus of the Metro Council, said he expected that the street-name change "will pass without much controversy" when the council meets Thursday night, adding that "everyone seems satisfied with" the compromise

Hamilton and Green initially proposed in early 2009 to name all of 34th Street for Coleman, including the Portland portion. Hamilton represents most of the area north of Broadway, while Green's district is centered south of Broadway.

The proposal to include the Portland section of 34th Street in the renaming prompted opposition from some residents.

Jennifer Cardwell, who lives in the 100 block of N. 34th St., said in a phone interview Wednesday that she and most of her neighbors are glad that the council is not changing the name of the Portland portion of the street. "I grew up on this street. And we honor the memories and heritage we have of the street. The name 34th Street means something to me."

She said she didn't feel that Coleman deserves being honored, saying "I didn't agree with his politics."

However, the Rev. James Tennyson, executive director of the Justice Resource Center, said he doesn't think it's acceptable to change the name of only part of the street. Coleman "wanted all of the people to come together. He was for all of the people, whether they were black or white, rich or poor. We want inclusion, not exclusion," Tennyson said.

He noted, however, that representatives of several civil-rights organizations, including some members of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, supported the idea of not changing the name of the street through Portland. "If it's satisfactory for them, so be it," Tennyson said.

Hamilton didn't return phone calls Wednesday. But Green said in an interview that "I'm happy we could come to a good compromise." She said she respected the fact that some residents had concerns about having new addresses.

Green praised the work that Coleman did, saying that "he was a person of vision who worked all his adult life to bring about peace, and justice for all. He gave of himself tirelessly. I hope naming 34th Street for him fills a void. It is a very well-traveled path, and having his name on it will remind us that we should try to do more in the fight for justice. This is such an emotional thing for me."