Unanimous vote to rename Calhoun Parkway, parkland around Bde Maka Ska

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Bde Maka Ska or Lake Calhoun? It’s a debate that will likely be decided by the courts, but for the roads around the lake, it's up to the Minneapolis Park Board.

The MPRB Administration and Finance Committee voted Wednesday to move forward with the name change for the roads surrounding the lake and to officially rename the parkland.

“Calhoun isn’t a guy who we want to represent our community,” said Naomi Kaplan, a park-goer.  

After an appeals court ruled the DNR didn’t have the authority to rename Lake Calhoun to Bde Mka Ska, the name of the lake was questioned once again. As that battle plays out in the judicial system, the city is taking aim at something they can change: the roads and parkways surrounding the lake.

“I think changing the name of the street would represent our community a lot better,” said Kaplan.

More than 30 people showed up to Wednesday’s Park Board meeting to speak mostly in favor of the name change.

They said the former Vice President and strong defender of slavery John C. Calhoun is not a name they want celebrated in their city.

“When you name something after someone, it means you respect and admire someone and want to keep their memory alive,” said Cana Karatekin, who lives near Lake Calhoun. “I neither respect nor admire John C. Calhoun. He belongs between the covers of history books and not in my daily life.”

A petition circulated by a group called, “Save Lake Calhoun” found that most homeowners around the lake don’t support the name change.  

Those willing to speak publicly, however, expressed a different view.

“Nearly 20 percent of the people living in Minneapolis is African American, so by not changing the name, what are we telling them?” asked another commenter. “To our native communities, what are we telling them?”

The next steps for the parkway and road renaming process are a 45-day comment period and public hearing, which will be held in August. As for renaming the parkland, the issue will go before the full board on June 12.