Philadelphia community campaigns to change street name with controversial history

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For over a year now, community members in Philadelphia's Grays Ferry neighborhood have campaigned to rename a city street with a controversial history.

A coalition of community groups are calling for city leaders to change the name of Taney Street. The street's namesake is at the core of their concern.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote the Dred Scott decision in 1857, ruling that Black Americans were not and could never be recognized as US citizens.

A petition to rename the street has collected more than 2,700 signatures.

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson released this statement on the renaming effort:

"The Rename Taney Coalition has worked hard for months in its efforts to rename the five (5) blocks of South TaneyStreet(s) in South Philadelphia. The Coalition has periodically provided updates to our office and solicited feedback. Our office has stressed to the Coalition that the engagement process must be fair and transparent. The community engagement process continues.

Councilmember Johnson is open to renaming the southern portion of Taney Street(s), but one critical thing to the Councilman will be to hear directly from current residents of South Taney Street(s) to see if they support a name change or not. The opinions of the current residents of South Taney Street(s) will be an important factor in any decision about the future name of the street moving forward.

Our office in recent weeks has received emails on both sides from South Taney Street(s) residents and neighbors-some in support of the name change and some in strong opposition.

The decision to rename any street in Philadelphia is made by Philadelphia City Council. Any bill to change the name of South Taney Street(s) must be introduced by Councilmember Johnson since South Taney Street(s) is located in the Second Council District.

Councilmember Johnson is open to introducing legislation after he feels a thorough and inclusive community process has been completed. A bill that includes a new name must be passed by the full City Council to officially change the name."
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