Dowling Street renamed "Emancipation Avenue" in historic African American community

- What's in a name? For some, hurtful history. It's why many say they petitioned to change the name of a street through Houston's Third Ward. Today, the change was approved by the city.

Dowling Street through Houston's Third Ward will be renamed Emancipation Avenue this Spring.

The change was approved by Houston City Council on Wednesday, after what Mayor Turner called considerable public engagement.

While Mayor Turner says the renaming of Dowling Street is aimed at aligning the street with the park for which it serves as a front door, State Representative Garnet Coleman, who championed for the change, calls this much more.

"Dowling Street which was originally named East Broadway, but was changed to offend the Black community who lived in the surrounding area by naming the street after Confederate Army Commander Dick Dowling. Renaming the street is righting one of the many wrongs of the past," said Coleman in a statement Wednesday.

The new name will launch on Juneteenth - the national day celebrating when Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with news that war had ended and slaves were free.

The renaming will coincide with the re-launching of Emancipation Park, located along Dowling. Purchased and founded by freed slaves in the 1872, Emancipation Park became a popular family space for the predominantly African American community of Third Ward. In 2013 it closed for a $33.5 million dollar renovation project.

Business in the area, both old and new, told FOX26 they'll have work to do to prepare for the change; like paying to update and reprint their address on business materials.

"Marketing materials are easy," said Deepak Doshi, owner of Doshi House on Dowling Street. "Secretary of State filings, business LLC filings, we don't know if those have to be changed or if there's some link between state records and property lots. I'm not really sure."

While Doshi and other business owners say they eagerly await further guidance, most remained excited for what the changes will bring.

"Emancipation represents that we are free, and we are free to own our own businesses, we are free to have space in our neighborhood that looks like us, so I think it's going to be really, really good," expressed Ella Russell, owner of newly opened E-dub-a-livious Treats across from Emancipation Park.

Former city councilman Peter Brown has pledged to cover the city's cost of replacing street signs along Dowling, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The change is one of many in Houston this year based on removing ties to confederate history. This summer, Houston Independent School District approved the name change of seven schools said to be currently named after figures with confederate associations.

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