Group Open to Compromise on Lake Shore Drive Renaming — If Vote Happens Friday, Leaders Say

Leaders of Black Heroes Matter, the group that launched the push to rename Lake Shore Drive for Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, said Thursday they will agree to a compromise plan to call the iconic roadway “DuSable Lake Shore Drive” — if the change is approved Friday.

However, without Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s endorsement, the effort remains in flux 24 hours before the twice-rescheduled showdown. A spokesperson for the mayor declined to immediately respond to questions about the proposed new name, which could prove to be a tongue twister.

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Ephraim Martin, the leader of Black Heroes Matter, told reporters during an online news conference Thursday that the group would support renaming Lake Shore Drive “DuSable Lake Shore Drive” as long as a vote takes place Friday — and the parliamentary shenanigans that have blocked a decision come to an end.

The new name for the iconic roadway will “send a serious message to the world that Chicago is ready to end systemic racism,” Martin said.

Martin said his group — which has lobbied city officials for months on the name change — has yet to see the proposed compromise in writing. Martin said many members are skeptical that the compromise could break the logjam, noting they have been “waiting far too long” for a decisive vote by the City Council.

Martin said he was confident that there were at least 26 votes for the original proposal to rename outer Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood Avenue in Edgewater to 67th Street in Woodlawn DuSable Drive.

“But we will accept this compromise, and just get it out of the way,” Martin said.

Without the mayor’s support, the compromise measure to rename Lake Shore Drive for DuSable is not likely to have enough support to pass. 

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward), who was one of two aldermen who blocked a vote on the renaming in May, told WTTW News that the revised proposal was an “awkward attempt at compromise.”

But Hopkins did not rule out supporting it, saying he was checking to see whether the revised proposal would not require buildings and museums to change their addresses.

“It’s likely they would still get mail addressed to Lake Shore Drive, while the added ‘DuSable’ is gradually transitioned in,” Hopkins said.

Another proposal would rename Millennium Park for DuSable.

Lightfoot has said she does not want to see the roadway renamed, and said that most Chicagoans agree with her.

If a name change does pass without the mayor’s office, Lightfoot could veto it. It would take 34 votes of the City Council to override that action. The last veto came in 2006 when former Mayor Richard M. Daley vetoed a measure that would have required big-box stores like Walmart to pay employees at least $10 an hour by 2010. The city’s minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour July 1.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over a City Council meeting that ended abruptly on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WTTW News)Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over a City Council meeting that ended abruptly on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WTTW News)

Lightfoot has said a better way to honor DuSable and his wife, Kitihawa, a member of the Potawatomi tribe, would be to complete the long-delayed DuSable Park along the lakefront and connect it to a Riverwalk renamed in DuSable’s honor. Three statues would mark the way, Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said that would cost $40 million, with $10 million coming from Related Midwest for the long-delayed completion of DuSable Park on a 3.3-acre peninsula adjacent to two planned towers. Former Mayor Harold Washington proposed creating the park to honor DuSable.

A vote on the proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive was blocked for a second time Wednesday, frustrating members of the City Council.

READ: Showdown on Lake Shore Drive Delayed as Acrimony Between Council, Mayor Reaches Fever Pitch

Twenty-two alderpeople — including Alds. David Moore (17th Ward) and Sophia King (4th Ward), the two sponsors of the push to rename Lake Shore Drive — sent a letter to Lightfoot on Thursday calling on her to follow the council’s rules of procedure and “ensure a fair and transparent process for legislative movement.”

“Any deviation from them is not only unacceptable and illegal, but also a manipulation of our democratic process,” the aldermen wrote.

That letter — signed by 44% of the Chicago City Council — is another indication of the acrimonious and deteriorating relationship between Lightfoot and many aldermen. 

Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward), left, speaks with Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a City Council meeting Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WTTW News)Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward), left, speaks with Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a City Council meeting Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (WTTW News)

That tension boiled over during Wednesday’s City Council meeting, when a move to block the confirmation of Celia Meza prompted Lightfoot to leave the rostrum and confront Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward). The two argued for several minutes as a stunned City Council looked on.

Taylor said she blocked Meza’s confirmation because of the city’s handling of the lawsuit filed by Anjanette Young, a social worker whose home was mistakenly raided in February 2019. Forty-three times, Young told the seven male police officers who handcuffed her while she was naked that they were in the wrong home and begged them to let her get dressed.

The city has so far declined to settle that lawsuit and compensate Young.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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