Part of East Boulevard downtown is about to be re-named T.J. Jemison Boulevard, after the Metro Council green-lighted the name change Wednesday during the final step of the process at a council zoning meeting.
Jemison was one of Baton Rouge’s most famous civil rights leaders, best known for organizing the country’s first bus boycott at Mount Zion First Baptist Church on East Boulevard. He died two years ago at age 95, and his relatives and friends have sought since then for the street to be named after him.
The newly named T.J. Jemison Boulevard will stretch from part of East Boulevard and North Ninth Street, from Government Street to Florida Street.
The Metro Council voted unanimously in favor of the name change, without discussion or debate, nor did anyone from the public speak about the name change request at the meeting.
Some neighbors had pushed back in October after early requests to rename the street.
Beauregard Town Civic Association members said at a Planning Commission meeting in October that they did not want to change the name of East Boulevard because it’s a historical boundary of the neighborhood dating back to the early 1800s. They said Baton Rouge is often too quick to disregard historical preservation.
Others worried that changing the name of East Boulevard would be confusing for drivers, because the road already switches from East Boulevard to North 9th Street to Thomas H. Delpit Drive.
But State Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, collected signatures from the majority of property owners who would be directly affected by the name change and they OK’d it. She also led a push for a statue of Jemison to be added to the Louisiana State Capitol’s grounds.
Jemison’s 58-year-old son Ted Jemison also advocated for the name change in the past.
“His legacy in Baton Rouge starts there, on East Boulevard,” the younger Jemison had said about the importance of renaming the street.
In other business, the Metro Council deferred an item that would force them to have a three-fourths vote when rezoning property without consent from a property owner. The council is expected to take up the issue again in January 2016.