Rep. Ford: Change Cicero Avenue to Mandela Road

To honor the great man

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Jim Bowman


South Oak Park's Rep. La Shawn Ford wants to rename Cicero Avenue to Mandela Road. It would be "a small gesture from our partnering communities" — Western Springs, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Brookfield, Forest Park, Proviso Township, Riverside, North Riverside, Berwyn, Oak Park, and Austin, all of the 8th Illinois House District — to honor the late S. African leader, who has been "an inspiration to many," Ford says in a petition.

Doing this "will send a message that Illinois stands for a strong road for justice," he adds.

It would to many. But probably not to merchants who have to change their signs and letterheads. Not even, maybe, to the cash-strapped city of Chicago, which would have to change street signs etc. Not to mapmakers — wait: yes to mapmakers, who would gain much business from need for new maps. But not to the town of Cicero, for heaven's sake. Egads, what's next? Oak Park Avenue becomes Danny Davis Drive?

This is no honorarily renaming Jackson Boulevard east of Austin in honor of the late Rev. Shelvin Hall (who pastored a Lawndale church later moved to Austin) or Superior, State to Wabash, to the late Bishop Timothy Lyne.

At 120 blocks, Cicero lags only Western and five other streets among the city's longest (and only by not counting Rooselt to 39th, where Cicero is not a Chicago street) — behind Western at 188 blocks, Halsted at 171.

So with due respect to Rep. Ford and others who want to honor the admirable Nelson Mandela, renaming Cicero would be no "small gesture" and probably not a good idea.

Email: Twitter: @BlitheSp

Reader Comments

25 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 11th, 2013 12:00 AM

Thank you Rep. Ford. I did not know about the town hall meeting. It reflects very positively on you as State Representative and a person that you make yourself available to listen and interact with people from your district on both sides of an issue.

La Shawn K. Ford from Chicago  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 4:47 PM

Mr. Doogan-- On 11.20.2013 I held a town hall meeting about the issue of Conceal and Carry, and the meeting was held in Oak Park. I am happy to meet with you about the issue of CC. Mr. Doogan at that meeting I will happily try and answer all of your questions. I will not answer one question on the topic of CC on this post. I will stick to the topic of renaming Rte 50 to Mandela Road. I am ready to meet. Merry Christmas, Rep. Ford 708.445.3673 or

La Shawn K. Ford from Chicago  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 4:33 PM

Hello Jim, I believe in my proposal to rename Rte 50 to Mandela Road and will work very hard to make it happen. You have every right to express yourself about your belief and challenge my proposal. Thank you adding your viewpoint.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 2:37 PM

Seems to me that posters love ink as well. That includes me.

Jim from South Oak Park  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 1:33 PM

A political ploy to get Ford's name out to the electorate. Cicero Ave won't be renamed, but look at the "ink" Ford's gotten. Politicians love "ink," and they will leverage fringe edge proposals to get it; as long as voters remember the name at the polls. So, remember this about Ford: He's under federal indictment for financial dealings. Not to say guilty or not, that's for the legal system to determine.

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 12:30 PM

Rep. Ford- Is it positive for the people of IL to have a person like Todd Vandermyde acting as a lobbyist, having free access to the legislature and influencing laws and public policy in IL? His former boss William Dugan at the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers local 150 in Countryside was convicted of federal charges by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in 2010.

La Shawn K. Ford from Chicago   

Posted: December 9th, 2013 11:44 AM

Happy Holidays Mr. Murtagh, Thank you for the positive message.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 11:33 AM

Rep. Ford - It is good having you participate in a public forum. We need more of that from elected officials. Thanks and Happy Holidays.

Business Man  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 11:18 AM

Actually I can list a lot of streets in Chicago alone that have problems and are not named after famous people. The fact is the areas are not bad in spite of or because of the name. It has no effect whatsoever after the initial grandstanding by the politicians at the unveiling.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 11:10 AM

"We agree expectations to follow" No, we agree that results will follow, and if no results, why not."Its about the will to work for improvements"Its about the action to work for improvements."You know more than we expect the act of marriage to transform love into a relationship" I know nothing of anyones marriage, love or relationship Proposal on deck:. We ask the Mandella family if they want a street or an educational program named after Nelson.

La Shawn K. Ford from Chicago  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 8:33 AM

It's true that some MLK streets are located in areas that need improvements. It's because the streets have Martin Luther King Jr.'s name on them we recognize that there is a real need to improve those communities you have given reference to. I don't expect the communities to automatically transform because of a name change, know more than we expect the act of Marriage to transform love in a relationship. It's all about the Will to work for improvements. We agree that expectations will follow

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 7:55 AM

Proposal still stands: We ask the remaining family if they want a street named after Nelson, or an educational program named after Nelson.

Business Man  

Posted: December 9th, 2013 4:23 AM

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Chicago and almost every other city is located is some of the worst neighborhoods. A street name change does not improve a community, it's sad that Rep, Ford really believes that it's true.

Bill Doogan  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 9:06 PM

Rep. Ford- If you wish for justice in your community, why did you & the black caucus not remove Duty to Inform from Brandon Phelps carry bill? You said that it would be used to profile black people. Looking at the police state in South Africa, the NRA has set up a police state w/ DTI where any cop will have legal cover to arrest any armed citizen. Why are you associating w/ NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde? His former boss William Dugan was convicted by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in 2010!

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 8:50 PM

Being a blood donor,marrow donor, Clusters tutor I see the same, with or without the symbols. Heres what we do, we contact the Mandella family. We ask them: Would you like a street named after Nelson, or an educational program named after Nelson? let the family decide.

La Shawn K. Ford from Chicago   

Posted: December 8th, 2013 6:28 PM

Well I see the holidays as a time to renew our purpose in life. You may see it as a time that comes and goes, leaving nothing for those that celebrate them. If we are truly celebrating holidays and all they stand for, then each holiday should leave memories and aspirations to help make the the days ahead brighter.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 6:11 PM

The holiday symbols are taken down after the holiday. A tangible symbol would be an education assistance which benefits all. Dreams without action are empty.

La Shawn K. Ford from Chicago  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 4:20 PM

During this holiday season, symbols such as the nativity scene and the menorah are used to invoke deep feelings of community and inspiration. Creating a symbol which aims to bring peoples together and celebrates the life of someone who succeeded spectacularly against all expectations is not a view based on political party. Let's not kill the hope that allows all of us to dream, and let's look to tangible symbols to help inspire us to do great things, especially when it's for the good of all.

A modification of Hope & Change?  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 11:30 AM

A modification of "Hope & Change!" to "Change & Hope?" Hope this works better than the original slogan. Also, the money spent on the CTA is not from the city, but the State/Fed/CTA - which would not be true for "Streets & San" expenses. Like Mr. Slowiak, I'd rather see the money spent to "mentor, tutor or the name of...Mandela." But, hey, like Mr. Bowman, I'm a heartless Republican - who believes in substance rather than symbolism in "transforming the communities linked to Rte 50."

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 10:36 AM

I would rather see the time and money be used to mentor,tutor or educate the children in the name of Nelson Mandella

La Shawn K. Ford from Chicago  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 8:20 AM

I see the name change as the first step of government getting involved in transforming the communities linked to Rte 50. President Nelson Mandela represents change and hope, both are needed in our society and the communities along Rte 50. When name changes take place to honor someone at a school or on a street it becomes a Constant reminder that we have hope and great expectations moving forward. Great expectations from both the government and the community to improve the vision for the area

Aging Disgracefully from Oak Park  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 8:16 AM

You're wrong, Jim. And this is a perfect example of why people think Republicans have no heart.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: December 8th, 2013 12:47 AM

mr bowman- are we talking about the same 'cash-strapped city of Chicago' that just approved $492 million on the blue line revamp, spent $425 million on the red line revamp, has budgeted $240 million on the 95th street bus terminal rehab and $92 million on building a new basketball stadium for DePaul? While I'm skeptical of the idea that changing the name of a street will improve a community, changing the name of a street really isn't that big of a deal...


Posted: December 7th, 2013 9:43 PM

Dear Mr. Ford, I am by nature a skeptic (and think highly of Mr. Mandela), and so could you kindly provide any examples where changing the name of a main street has "improve(d) communities and businesses linked to the road" and/or been "an opportunity for growth"? FWIW, I'm old enough to recall the rationale for changing the names of Hawthorne and Emerson schools in Oak Park and I'm unaware of how that "hope" has met "reality."

La Shawn K Ford  

Posted: December 7th, 2013 5:35 PM

Dear Mr. Bowman, Thank you for covering the proposal to change the street name from Cicero to Mandela. I see the change as an opportunity that could bring hope to people in Illinois and exposure for businesses on Rte 50. The change should immediately improve communities and businesses linked to the road. I see this as an opportunity for growth. After all this surely would not be the first street name change and it surely wound not be the last.

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2017

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2017 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad