(6-19-21) The Fort Wayne (Indiana) Road Commission and Ft. Wayne Mayor Tom Henry met with a coalition, the MLK Club of Fort Wayne, with the goal of the group of renaming Calhoun Street after Martin Luther King, Jr..
The FWRC has followed the progress of the group’s mission, and provided historical documents pertaining to the history of the street names and their many changes over the years.
Calhoun Street was likely named by businessmen Barr and McCorkle to attract federal investment in local canals. The street was named after John C. Calhoun of South Carolina , the 7th Vice President of the US (1825-1832).
According to the group Calhoun’s legacy was not one of canal work…but one of defense of slavery as not just a “necessary evil,” but a “positive good.”
Several other communities have recently considered changing streets named to honor Calhoun, including Charleston, South Carolina…which is Calhoun’s home state.
According to his bio on www.senate.gov –
Calhoun returned to the Senate in November 1845 and remained there for the rest of his life. Increasingly defensive about the institution of slavery as the abolition movement gained momentum, and agitated at the growing discord between the slaveholding and free states, he spoke, as he informed the Senate in 1847, as “a Southern man and a slaveholder.” As secretary of state Calhoun had strongly supported the annexation of Texas. After Pennsylvania representative David Wilmot offered his famous proviso as an amendment to an administration war bill, however, the South Carolina senator realized that the acquisition of additional territory would inevitably heighten the sectional conflict over slavery. The Wilmot Proviso, which would have barred slavery from all lands acquired from Mexico, pushed Calhoun into the anti-administration camp. He vehemently opposed the war policy of President James K. Polk, warning that the acquisition of Mexican territory, with its population of “pure Indians and by far the larger portion of the residue mixed blood,” would corrupt the nation’s culture and institutions.
Henry Clay, on January 29, 1850, offered a series of proposals, collectively known as the Compromise of 1850. Clay proposed that California enter the Union as a free state and that Congress agree to impose no restrictions on slavery in the New Mexico and Utah territories. The compromise also provided that Congress would not prohibit or regulate slavery in the District of Columbia, would abolish the slave trade in the District, and would require northern states to comply with fugitive slave laws.He vehemently opposed to abolishing the slave trade in the nation’s capital and admitting California as a free state, refused to endorse the plan.
If the initiative is to become law they will need to gather signatures from 60% of Calhoun Street property owners. The request then moves to the city’s plan commission for consideration. If approved by the commission, the request goes to the mayor’s office for consideration and possible approval.
Local residents and businesses would face several logistical changes with a street name change and headaches associated with that.
If the change takes place it would mark just the second time in Fort Wayne history that a street from the original city plat was renamed, the first was when Water Street was renamed to Superior Street.
According to their web site –
The focus of the MLK. Club is primarily on educating the community relative to the philosophy of non-violence and passive resistance as expounded by Dr. King.
Our focus is defined by the community we live in; however, our endeavor is to educate African-Americans and other ethnic groups on the fundamentals of supporting African-American businesses in our neighborhoods, and the significance of violent crimes, and drugs destroying our communities.