City to propose rare name change for Stony Island Avenue to honor Bishop Brazier

September 10, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The proposal aims to rename the major thoroughfare after Bishop Arthur Brazier of the Apostolic Church of God in the Woodlawn area. His son has an original copy of the June 1964 Chicago Sun-Times edition with the story about a massive rally in Soldier Field held by Dr. Martin Luther King.

The man who brought Dr. King to Chicago and served as emcee of the rally is Bishop Arthur Brazier. It was one of many shining moments for the celebrated pastor who died three years ago at the age of 89.

"No one could deny his fit or his contribution to the betterment of the community," said Dr. Byron T. Brazier, Apostolic Church of God.

After taking over as pastor of the Apostolic Church of God in the Woodlawn community in 1960, Bishop Brazier watched it grow from 100 members to some 20,000, who attend services in a massive sanctuary.

The youth and family services building attached is dedicated in his name. He was also a community leader, founder and president of the Woodlawn organization.

"We should pay tribute to somebody who's changed the face of our city and has made it a great city and reminded us of our conscience," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

For that reason Mayor Emanuel plans to introduce a resolution in city council on Wednesday morning to rename the entire stretch of Stony Island from 56th Street south to the Calumet River and beyond, all in Bishop Arthur Brazier's honor.

The rare proposal would literally replace the name Stony Island Avenue on street signs and maps.

And while it is seen by some as a politically popular move in the African-American community by a mayor whose support in that community is slipping, political science Professor Dick Simpson says it is also justified.

"Bishop Brazier was a very important figure in Chicago history," said Prof. Dick Simpson, political science department, University of Illinois-Chicago. "It's both good government and good politics, and it's really nice when those go together for a public official."

"Myself, my family and congregation consider it an honor. We appreciate the mayor for introducing it to the city council," said Dr. Brazier.

The proposal would cost the city to change street signs and maps, but the city council is showing early signs of support for the proposal.

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