Plan to rename street after Gandhi

July 13, 2009 6:20:54 PM PDT
A well-known street in Houston could soon have a new name. One group is working on a plan, hoping to change the street name Hillcroft.The change would affect Hillcroft between Highway 59 and Westpark. While some Houstonians welcome the proposed change, others do not.

Lined with international shops and restaurants, Hillcroft is known for its vast diversity. Now the India Culture Center wants to rename Hillcroft as Mahatma Gandhi Street, to honor the late spiritual leader.

Indian business owner Vimla Patel said, "It is good for Indian people. It is good for our country."

Gandhi is a global figure, known for resolving conflicts non-violently. He helped India to gain independence from the British without a military. He has often been compared to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela.

Houston city council member MJ Khan said, "I think everybody should be part of being Mahatma Gandhi's legacy."

Khan says he will support changing Hillcroft's name to Mahatma Gandhi Avenue, if that's what the community wants.

"Our city is a very international city so I think it will help if we start branding that area," Khan explained.

Store clerk Inder Buhtti believes Gandhi Avenue could curb crime and violence in the area.

He said, "Everything he wants he wanted in a peaceful way, not with guns or with bombs."

Many people with say there's no controversy. Gandhi's work is respected across cultures. Still, some say they want the name Hillcroft to remain. After all, it is an international street.

One man asked, "Why don't they change it to Chavez? Because there are a lot of Spanish businesses around here, too."

Spanish, Guatemalan, Chinese and Persian businesses in the area attract an array of customers. Azar Delpassand from Iran says the street's name should reflect that diversity.

She said, "In here, this street, you have Arabic stores, you have Indian stores, you have Persian stores. So excluding others because of Indians, I don't think (so). It's not fair."

Project organizers held their first meeting three weeks ago. They will file formal requests in coming months. Organizers hope to have the signs up by October 2 to mark International Non-Violence Day and Gandhi's birthday. There has been no discussion yet on the cost of the project.

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