After all the furor raised on social media, the Tuesday, Sept. 5 meeting of the Paris City Council, in which it discussed whether to change the name of East Klan Street, was something of an anticlimax.
The street will not be renamed. Only 10 people showed up for the meeting and none of the five or six who spoke suggested a name change and the meeting, which was expected to be a long one, lasted only 30 minutes or so.
The whole idea was brought up by the Rev. Heath Bradley of Bella Vista, a native of Paris. In the aftermath of violence in Charlottesville, Va. in August, which took place during a protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and a counter protest that left one counter protester dead, Bradley suggested renaming the street in a letter to the editor of the Paris Express. Local legend suggests that the street was named for the Ku Klux Klan, which, according to legend, met in a house or building on the street.
“I really didn’t know what to expect at the meeting, after all the attention on social media,” Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers said. “Five or six people spoke and they didn’t want the name changed. Once we heard the public comments, the council talked about it and said they hadn’t heard any complaints about the name, so the matter was dropped and we all went about our business.”
Rogers also said some of the people in attendance wondered where the people who wanted the name changed were. He also said someone suggested leaving the street signs, which were stolen months ago, down.
“I probably won’t replace the street signs,” Rogers said.
The situation, however, spurred research into why the street is named Klan.
It could be named for the Ku Klux Klan, which was active in Paris in the 1920s when it was at its peak of national popularity. It could also be named for a family. Klan is a common surname, family name, in Scotland and Germany. Paris was settled in part by immigrants from southern Germany and Switzerland.
“I’ve researched it and I can’t find any proof it’s named for the Klan,” Rogers said. “The people who attended the meeting, many of them live on the street, didn’t feel like this was a racial issue. It was just someone trying to stir something up.”