State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-8th) gets the credit for last week’s ceremonial renaming of a long stretch of Cicero Avenue for Nelson Mandela, the transformational leader of South Africa. Mandela’s strength, courage and wisdom changed his country and changed the world.

The christening of Cicero Avenue from Grand Avenue to Roosevelt Road is, of course, symbolic. All street names, school names, government building names are symbolic. They reflect people who we value and respect, who have had impact on our world. We’re not naïve, but bringing the name of Mandela to Chicago’s West Side provides an ironic twist in the midst of the summer’s chaos and violence in these African American communities. Would only that it provided a pause.

Ford continues to press to have the entirety of Cicero Avenue renamed for Nelson Mandela. That is a worthy goal for as much as West Side youth could learn a lesson from this man’s calming ways, Illinoisans from Kankakee to Skokie — Cicero is a very long stretch — could learn from his inclusiveness and fortitude.

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