MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Lake Calhoun could be called something different if a Minneapolis man gets his wish.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board directed someone to start researching the idea of changing the lake’s name Wednesday night. It’s the first step in a very long process to make a change, and that process could take two years.
“It’s named after the arch-prophet of slavery. It just bothers me,” said John Winters, a Minneapolis resident who has researched John Caldwell Calhoun, who the Minneapolis lake is named after.
He’s found Calhoun held every major post in national government except the President. But, Calhoun intensely defended slavery.
“Now that I know about John C. Calhoun and hear the name, I think of a Confederate Flag flying above a Minnesota lake,” Winters said. “There was no honor in Calhoun, unless you loved slavery.”
He’d like to see the name of Lake Calhoun changed to Lake Humphrey after Hubert Humphrey.
“It’s a long way off if it happens at all,” said Dawn Sommers, spokesperson for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
She said once the research is done on making the change, board members will see it. They’ll decide then whether to even consider the name change. If it’s considered, there will be public hearings for residents to say what they think before any decision is made.
“It needs to be a very thoughtful, careful, consistent process to change a park facility name or a building name or something like the Chain of Lakes,” said Sommers.
Changing the name means changing the name of everything else associated with it, which includes things like street signs and park signs. Businesses would have to change names too, including apartment complexes and condominium complexes.
“It’s been a long time to change it now,” said a caucasian woman who was at Lake Calhoun Thursday night.
She suggested leaving the name alone, but Yvonne Ferguson, an African-American woman, said something different.
“Yea. I’m totally for it, if it was promoting slavery,” Ferguson said.
Winters said he hopes the winds of change someday sweep across Calhoun.
“I’m not going to give up on this, not at all. It’s worth doing,” he said.
Winters said he wants to take it even further. He’d like to see it on the ballot during the next election, and he’s researching that now.