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Street fulfills a West Jordan dream

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WEST JORDAN — It all started in December 1955 when Mike Kellermeyer was 7 years old and one woman refused to give up her seat on a bus.

Kellermeyer, a West Jordan city councilman, grew up in the Midwest and saw the persecution blacks had to go through in their fight for civil rights, including the historic day when Rosa Parks made her stand by sitting on a Montgomery, Ala., bus. After her death in October 2005, it came to Kellermeyer that West Jordan should name a street after her.

Kellermeyer first brought it up with the City Council in November, but the motion was tabled for several months until it came up again in a January meeting.

On Thursday, Feb. 2, just two days before Rosa Parks' birthday, Kellermeyer's vision came to fruition as 8020 South, the street that runs right by West Jordan City Hall and the justice buildings, was renamed Rosa Parks Drive.

"I'm overjoyed that (the street naming) happened," he said. "There's always been a problem with intolerance or injustice. Even though Rosa Parks did what she did in 1955, there's still injustice and intolerance, not just for blacks but for other races as well."

Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said it was a historic day as West Jordan will be the first city in the state to name a street after Parks.

"This is a great location," she said. "Many people will come by here, even residents from other cities in the West Valley."

Williams said the NAACP hopes to one day have a monument on the street to commemorate Parks.

Dennis McKinley of the West Jordan Chamber of Commerce feels that the street naming will help with diversity in West Jordan.

"I think it will show a diversity here and that we honor all people in the city," he said. "It's a nice gesture. . . . People will know where the street is and it will be tied into the city over the years to come."

Kellermeyer said it was West Jordan Councilwoman Kathy Hilton who recommended the city name the street Rosa Parks Drive, a street that many people will be driving on since it goes right through the city's civic center.

Bonnie Fernandez, a West Jordan resident who attended the dedication, said the street will be especially important to help youths know about Parks.

"It's important for young people to know who Rosa Parks was and to know that she did play a significant role," she said.

Kellermeyer said the city is happy to lead the way in honoring such an important civil rights figure.

"Today, Feb. 2, 2006, the city of West Jordan is pleased — no, is proud to be the first city in the state of Utah to honor this brave woman. It is our hope that other cities will soon follow in honoring her simple but courageous example," he said in his remarks at the ceremony. "As the Rev. Jesse Jackson so eloquently stated, 'She sat down so that others could stand up.' "

E-mail: twalquist@desnews.com