Re: Cesar Chavez, Ross

An interesting idea from an unrelated-question-having FBvian:

Hey, I was just reading your most recent piece about the Cesar Chavez Way controversy, and it made me think about how Chicago deals with similar issues. They don’t actually change the names of the streets, but they designate them “Honorary” streets, with supplemental brown “vanity” signs rather than wholesale replacement of “real” street signs. That’s how Studs Terkel, Paul Harvey, Barbara Taylor Bradford and about 1,300 other people (I am not joking) have Honorary Street named after them in Chicago. The mayor, aldermen and various other “made” people rename streets at the drop of a hat. And, it being Chicago, I am sure there is some sort of contribution being made to facilitate the honor.

[in barely masked Scottish burr] “That’s the Chicago way!”


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20 responses to “Re: Cesar Chavez, Ross”

  1. Brandon says:

    New York does the same. Oh my Lord I can’t believe nobody has thought of this already.

    Heck, even Plano has an honorary name for 15th Street (Norman F. Whitsitt Pkwy.)!

  2. Wes Mantooth says:

    Look, we can’t have more than one name for the same street. It’s too confusing. I mean, what if I-35 were also called Stemmons Freeway? Or if U.S. 75 was also called Central Expressway? Or if I-635 was also called LBJ?

  3. Kirk says:

    No more confusing than Sean Connery playing an Irish cop named Jimmy Malone who spoke with an Edinburgh burr, talking about The Chicago Way?

  4. Gwyon says:

    Thackery, Thackeray.

  5. Brian says:

    I think honorific names on regular streets is the best idea. Marcus Plaza downtown… Major thoroughfares cannot honor anybody in any case. Every car accident, robbery, fire, traffic jam will be reported on the street so named. Lets leave the old names and think about places that deserve and respect a name for posterity. Places or buildings that honor people. A ribbon of asphalt through a city hardly honers anybody but its destination.

  6. Daniel says:

    We should name the Trinity tollway “Avenue of the Americas.”

    The Hispanic contingent would mightily struggle to contain their naked delight — Americas, dig — and it has the kind of ersatz ring to it that Dallas white people demand … kind of like “Uptown,” “LoMac” or “The Crests at Warwickshire Oaks.”

    Damn, it’s actually a good suggestion.

  7. Tom says:

    I noticed while we were at the Farmers Market on Saturday that the area between the two produce sheds is already named for Cesar Chavez. The sign sits atop the street sign and is similar to the honorary ones used in Chicago.

  8. Peterk says:

    the only problem?

    It makes too much d*mn sense

  9. Kevin says:

    Why do we need Cesar Chavez Circle anyway? We already have El BJ (which I never realized was probably a dirty word in Spanish.)

  10. Bill says:


    You are right. There is a street in the Farmer’s Market named for Cesar Chavez. You can even see the sign in Google Maps street view.

  11. Bill Betzen says:

    People ask what Cesar Chavez did in Texas. The best answer is found when you go to the Texas Handbook web site ( managed by the Texas State Historical Commission. When you search this Texas State Historical Commission web site for the name Cesar Chavez you will find his name and/or his work in Texas mentioned 9 times in the Texas Handbook. Search for Harry Hines, after whom a major north/south Dallas street is named that goes by Parkland Hospital, and you only get three hits. It is certain, with 9 mentions, that the name Cesar Chavez is more often present on the Texas State Historical Commission web site than the large majority of other names on downtown Dallas streets. Sam Houston is an obvious exception.

    Jim Schutze has a wonderful opinion piece on the Cesar Chavez street naming chaos at His opinion was only slightly wrong: the move of the name change process from Industrial to Ross, while it may have started as an “accommodation,” is ultimately resulting in a much better solution for many reasons. Here are some of those reasons, most of which have been shared with the mayor and city council:

    Minority leaders were virtually ignored for Dallas street names prior to 1960. That must be corrected!

    Last year 70% of Kindergarten students in Dallas ISD were Hispanic. They are the future Dallas must build for.

    Ross Avenue runs along the southern edge of what was once called Little Mexico. It is only 6 blocks from the old St. Ann’s school which was in the heart of Little Mexico, and is one of the few buildings preserved from that history. (See photo at which also shows southwest tip of Ross.)

    Today the northeast end of Ross is 65% Hispanic, as are many locations in Dallas since 43% of the total Dallas population is Hispanic, 29% is Non-Hispanic White, and 23% is Non-Hispanic Black.

    Hundreds of thousands of current Dallas residents, from all ethnic groups, grew up working in conditions that Cesar Chavez successfully worked to change in Texas and across the nation.

    Ross Ave is the largest Hispanic gathering place in Dallas on Sunday mornings. Thousands of Hispanic families attend the Cathedral of Guadalupe each weekend on Ross, filling the Cathedral repeatedly during many repeated liturgical services, all day Sunday, and Saturday evening, that are necessary to accommodate the crowds. No church in Dallas has more people attend services every weekend. The Virgin of Guadalupe played a significant role in the daily life of Cesar Chavez.

    Ross Avenue was the gathering place for the largest Civil Right march in Texas history! From 1:00 PM, and for hours thereafter on April 9, 2006, Ross Avenue was filled with people walking most of it’s length downtown. They peacefully filled the entire street from sidewalk to sidewalk. (See photos taken that day, and others linked from It is estimated as many as 500,000 people were present in the march. Most were Hispanic. It was an exceptionally impressive day! It is certain Cesar Chavez would have loved the non-violent nature of this huge march.

    Many of the businesses on Ross are either Hispanic (62%), or want to reach out to the Hispanic community for business reasons, and will support this change.

    A historical marker is being planned for the most-walked Ross Avenue intersection: North Market in the West End. It will document the history of the Ross brothers in Dallas, and possibly also the Carondolet name which was originally on the southwestern blocks of what is now Ross Avenue for over 70 years. The Ross Avenue name was expanded and the Carondolet name, going back to 1856, was deleted from maps sometime between 1930 and 1938. It is very appropriate that this naming process will lead to a historical marker that will better record the history of Dallas and bring almost forgotten pioneers back into public record and awareness.

    Both school and church were the center for life for Cesar Chavez. Ross has both the Cathedral and the DISD Central Offices on it. This is especially appropriate.

    A downtown street name will now reflect the presence of generations of Hispanic families who have done the work to literally build, and continue to build, much of our city and culture. It is only appropriate, since they are now the majority in the population of Dallas, that our city infrastructure names should reflect that reality.

    To always push minority names outside of downtown, as many have suggested, is a simple continuation of the “accommodation” scandals Jim Schutze painfully documented in the 1986 book, The Accommodation: The Politics of Race in an American City. (Copies of his book are in the Dallas Library.)

    Anyone who is interested in being involved in these efforts to rename Ross Avenue may want to go to for more current information.

    The one thing this street renaming process has exposed again is the absolute need to better educate Texans about their own history. The history of this wonderful state and it’s people is the most powerful tool we have for positive changes into the future. Our true history, not necessarily the recorded one, is powerful. When history is not recorded it is almost always due to political reasons, prejudice against minorities and the poor, and mistreatment thereof. We endanger our children and grandchildren to repeat that painful past if we ignore or hide it. We will not change until we can admit the factual, sometimes painful, truths of our past. The lack of change caused by a falsely positive image of our past will allow our grandchildren’s generation to still suffer in ways too similar to those our grandparents generation suffered.

    The process of exploration as we consider changing a street name helps us admit our past and build to a new and more positive future. We must leave behind the anger, hate, and ignorance of history, that has been reflected on blogs all over the Internet discussing the effort to put the name of Cesar Chavez on a street in Dallas. Dallas Morning News staff have even shut down at least one blog, refusing to take more comments, due to the anger and less than civil dialog reflected on that blog. (See You can also google blogs for “Cesar Chavez Dallas” to find other sad examples.)

    Cesar Chavez would never have wanted us to respond with the same verbal violence that far too many bloggers have used to angrily attack the idea of placing a Hispanic name on a Dallas street. Fortunately, verbally violent counter-attacks by those supporting the Cesar Chavez name change have been rare. We are keeping with the spirit of Cesar Chavez.

    We must continue the peaceful process we have begun to honor Cesar Chavez by only using the same peaceful methods he himself used. We have all benefited from his peaceful work.

    Let’s engage in a process that will say much about Dallas and how our beliefs are reflected in the way we change street names in our city to reflect our values. It will say more about us than it will ever say about Cesar Chavez. His legacy is already firmly established in the History of the USA. The history of Dallas is being built, day by day.

  12. SureThingDude says:


    I object to the claim that Hispanics don’t have streets named for people important to their past here. That is simply not true.

    Hispanics already have streets named for people in their past.

    All of those street names that we currently are named after people and things in Dallas past represent Dallas Hispanics just as much as they represent anyone. Just pick any name on a street in Dallas that is named after someone.

    Unless, Bill, you think that Hispanics have a separate and insular culture? Unless you think that Hispanics ought not be proud of Ross, MLK, Stemmons, Schepps and the like. Is it not their past also?

    I guess thats “their” past and this is “our” past?

    “Let’s engage in a process that will say much about Dallas and how our beliefs are reflected in the way we change street names in our city to reflect our values.”

    I agree with this Bill. It’s the first smart thing you’ve said. With that in mind your own advice suggests we leave Ross as Ross and put Cesar Chavez somewhere else.

  13. Bill Betzen says:

    The Ross Avenue street name sadly is about as “generic” a street name as you can get. Six months ago less than 100 people in Dallas could have given you the history of the Ross Brothers. That must change. Only a historical marker with that history on it located on the most walked intersection on Ross Avenue can do that. The Cesar Chavez Task force is willing to pay for that marker. The Ross Brothers are not in the history books seen by Texas students. Cesar Chavez is. His name on this street will reinforce the lessons his name is associated with in the history books, the fight for justice and equality for all Americans. He was born a US citizen and fought to protect the rights of US citizens against imported Bracero labor.

    Please study the history of Cesar Chavez. It is a noble history of good work. He last visited supporters in Dallas in 1991, two years before his death.

    He was once asked by a supporter how he should be remembered. He is quoted as having said: “If you want to remember me, organize!”

    He would have been exceptionally proud of the peaceful organization and gathering of a half million people on Ross Avenue on April 9, 2006. That is what he tought us to do. We did it on Ross, a street that also had a Cathedral on it dedicated to his favorite saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe. It all fits. The only alternative is Ross Avenue.

    “If you want to remember me, organize!”

    We are not doing this street name for him. It is for us, a reminder of what he wanted us to do.

  14. student ambassador says:

    To Tom:
    There may be an area named after Cesar Chavez in the Farmers Market, but we want Ross Ave. because it would be symbolic.
    1. The Catedral of Guadalupe is located on Ross and when Chavez used to protest he would always carry her in her chest.
    2. 60% of businesses on Ross are hispanic owned.
    3. Thousands of latino citizens joined together in a common interest to hold a civil protest for the civil treatment of illegal people in the U.S.
    4. DISD headquarters is located on Ross Ave. which the district is made out of a majority of latino population.
    5. It would encourage present and future generations of latinos to stand up for what they believe in so that together they can make changes against all odds.

  15. dallas scholar says:

    I believe that changing the name would be a great idea. Lets give the Hispanic community what they deserve… a little RESPECT! I just don’t see what is so horrendous about renaming Ross Ave. after somebody that is extremely important to the majority of the community in Dallas. He was an admirable leader who not only fought for our labor workers, but for the American Way.

  16. joey77 says:

    It is NOT about immagration, but about HONORING AN AMERICAN HERO of Latino descent. ROSS IS THE ONE-AND-ONLY CHOICE. Ross Avenue was the gathering place tor the largest Human Rights March in Texas history, in 2006 with 500,000 people. The Cathedral of Guadalupe on Ross Ave, a gathering of thousands of Hispanic parishioners eery Sunday. Cesar Chavez used the Lady de Guadalupe as a symbol of peace during his movement. Also, DISD headquarters is located on Ross Ave. Which last year 70% of kindergarten students in Dallas ISD were Hispanic. Cesar Chavez came to Dallas(most recent visit 1991) and rallied for the rights of ALL laborers of all ethnic groups who worked in conditins Cesar Chavez helped change. He promoted better rights and wages to workers in Texas and the Nation. Also, thousands of workers ind Dallas grew up in working conditions that Cesar Chavez worked to improve. In August, Mayor agreed that he would support the recommendations of the Latino city council members and asked them to cooperate with the community. Presercation of a segment of Ross where the family resided as is and include a HISTORICAL MARKER IN HONOR OF THE ROSS BROTHERS IN the corner of Ross Ave. and Market. We have NEVER HAD A THOROUGHFARE in Dallas honoring a Latino. Cesar Chavez is OUR NATION LEADER who deserves to be honored.

  17. Jasibell86 says:

    Thank you Joey!!
    Finally, someone who sees beyond all the racism in Dallas. The renaming of Ross Ave. is not about immigration. It is about the impact that the symbolism behind renaming Ross Ave. would have on the community. I really do not see anything negative about renaming Ross.

  18. Mariana says:

    I agree Jasibell86,

    Renaming ross is not about immigration is about showing the diversity of this city in its streets. Lets reflect that we are all equal and that we as Americans come in brown, black, white, all colors and all racess. Therefore we have all kinds of names and heroes. America=Diversity!

  19. student ambassador says:

    So….now they have denied us Ross Ave.. What does that say about the city of Dallas? Are the minorities really accepted in this city? As I was growing, I used to be so proud of my city. I thought it was full of fair people and that all minorities were welcomed. However, now as I am growing up I am beginning to see the cruel way in which people of different backgrounds are kept down in society. If we can not even get a street named after one of our most influential American heroes then that goes to show that we still have not overcome the issues in which leaders such as Mr.Chavez and Mr. King gave their precious lives for. The renaming on Ross Ave. gave me gave me hope for the future in Dallas. It brought to live a part of me that I was not aware existed. I had never been so passionate about anything in my life. I must warn you, I am a determined young lady with a goal. I am not afraid to speak out for what I think is best. This will not be the last time you hear from me. On Thursday there was only a few supporters but come September 25th everyone will see what the power of cultures being brought together can do….I leave you with a quote from Cesar Chavez….”We do not need to kill or destroy to win. We are a movement that builds and not destroys. Si se puede!”

  20. student ambassador says:

    Hello to everyone!
    Once again, it is me.
    Today I am here to inform everyone that due to the outcome on Ross Ave., I will now be pushing for Industrial Blvd. Industrial was our first goal because we felt that it was only fair. However, when the city decided that they were not going to honor the survey, we as a community decided to push for the renaming of Ross Ave. Please understand that we were not pushing for Ross because we wanted to dishonor history. We did it because it became a necessity for the Hispanic community. I hope we can come together and do what is best for everyone.