Youth rally to save Rep. John Lewis Way from being renamed

Rep. John Lewis Way
Posted at 6:24 AM, Feb 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-19 12:27:21-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Young people are speaking out against a bill proposed by some Tennessee Republican lawmakers to rename a part of Rep. John Lewis Way to President Trump Boulevard.

High school student Safiyah Suara said she wanted to get young people together to not only speak out but to learn that they can make a difference and should be aware of legislation like this.

The rally was held at the Metro Courthouse Public Square Park Saturday.

Safiyah is the daughter of Metro Councilwoman Zulfat Suara, and she said she was by her mom's side as she did the work to rename the road after the civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis.

"It's like history is repeating itself," said Zulfat. "You know when Lewis was here around their age with their counterpart, they saw something that was wrong and they jumped up, they did the sit-ins, they spoke up and to see this group now in 2023 saying 'we're not going to take this, we're going to push back' - that's the lesson from the legacy of John Lewis."

Lewis attended American Baptist College and Fisk University in Nashville. Safiyah said he was not much older than her when he became an activist for racial equality, so her hosting this rally is continuing his legacy in Nashville while also bringing to fellow young people's attention other bills, like the proposal to abolish the community oversight board, reduce metro council by half, and the proposal to refuse Federal Education Funding for schools.

"I think it's important for youth to know about issues like this, other bills that are trying to be passed because this is the community we are going to live in," said Safiyah. "And if we can't know about it and try to change it before it becomes cemented, how are we supposed to live in it in the future."

A petition on Forward-TN is being shared to urge lawmakers to not change the name of any part of Rep. John Lewis Way. It currently has more than 10,400 signatures.

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