By Valerie Godines Fitzgerald
SAN ANTONIO — City Council members have decided that Durango Boulevard between South Hackberry Street on the east and 36th Street on the west will be renamed César E. Chávez Boulevard — a decision that has sparked fevered support as well as protest.
Council members voted 7-4 on Thursday to spend about $100,000 to make the change.
Councilman Philip Cortez initiated the request. Voting against the measure were council members Ivy Taylor, Elisa Chan, John Clamp and Reed Williams.
“It is one of the most historic votes taken in San Antonio to honor a great American role model. It was a long, long time coming,” said Jaime Martinez, chairman of the César E. Chávez Legacy and Educational Foundation. “The City Council made the right decision. Councilman Cortez made the right decision. [Chávez] stood up against tremendous odds and never forgot where he came from and that is a very important statement.”
Chávez, who died in 1993, was a humble farm worker who rose to be a great national civil rights leader.
Some have protested spending money on the name change.
The city’s Development Services Department mailed 392 notices to owners and tenants of properties along and adjacent to Durango Boulevard. Of those notices, 40 responses were received. Thirty-eight opposed and two were in favor of the name change.
During an April 27 Planning Commission meeting, 24 constituents spoke about the issue; 17 in favor and seven opposed. The Planning Commission voted 7-2 to rename the street but requested that members of the César E. Chávez Foundation reach out to residents and business owners and offer assistance in making address changes and other notifications in order to make the transition smooth.
This isn’t the only name change happening to honor Chávez. U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has decided to name a new U.S. Navy supply ship after Chávez, who was also a Navy veteran.
“César Chávez was a catalyst of change and a role model to so many Americans. His legacy will live on in the many movements and organizations he started, including the United Farm Workers.
“Today, the CHC applauds the U.S. Navy for honoring César Chávez’s service to the Navy and his countless contributions to our country. The USNS César Chávez will proudly sail the waters bearing the name of one of our country’s greatest inspirations while honoring the brave men and women who serve our great nation,” said Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.