MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you look on Google Maps, you won’t notice a change to Jackson Avenue, but take a walk through the Vollintine-Evergreen area and you’ll notice it has a new name: Black Lives Matter Avenue.
At least, it temporarily has a new name.
Sometime overnight, the names were covered with faux street signs. It happened at North Watkins, Stonewall and even University Street, surprising those who live and work in the area.
WREG’s Jerrita Patterson spoke with several neighbors, many of whom were reluctant to go on camera. That includes one Memphis native on a morning walk with her dog.
She called the transformation unexpected.
“The first thing, obviously you were not supposed to put anything on property that belongs to the city like that,” she said.
Still, she said it’s understandable.
“Your reaction is ‘oh why did you do that?'” she said. “And still not any intentions on what they are talking to you about.”
Some neighbors said the words have definitely sparked more conversation, which they suggested might have been the idea from the start.
Neighbors WREG spoke with both on and off camera say there is one thing they feel is certain, and that is what’s happening across our area is believed to be a wake up call for those on the local and state level.
WREG reached out to leaders with Black Lives Matter to find out if they were indeed responsible for the faux signs. So far, we have not heard back.
The city sent a response on the street signs:
“While we appreciate the sentiment behind the name change of the signs, it was not the proper method to do so. All 21 signs have been removed. If citizens would like to have a street name changed there is process to do so. The link to begin that process can be found at https://shelbycountytn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/19135/Street-Name-Change?bidId=. Ultimately, however, the power to change a street name rests with the Memphis City Council.”
It is important to mention that the streets signs are crafted out of paper. They are not a permanent fixture.