Reginald Toussaint said more division was the last thing his father wanted after what was already a controversial process.
NEW ORLEANS – A 1919 map of New Orleans shows the changing face of the city.
At the time, what is now Robert E. Lee Boulevard was Adams Avenue.
Over a century later, the citizen-led Street Renaming Commission suggested a new name: Allen Toussaint Boulevard.
“So many people called us, ‘Hey, man. Will there be a party when the name changes? When does this happen? ‘ Said Reginald Toussaint, son of Allen Toussaint.
Toussaint called Robert E. Lee Boulevard at his house. The pianist’s house was adorned with treble clefs, indicative of the humble superstar who lived there.
But her family’s enthusiasm about a possible name change in her honor was unpleasant.
Recently, city councilors Jared Brossett and Joe Giarrusso reached out to Reginal Toussaint and his sister to ask if they would agree to the idea of dividing a famous Robert E. Lee boulevard between their neighborhoods.
This idea was briefly discussed as the Street Renaming Commission considered new names for streets that honor Confederates or white supremacists.
Reginald Toussaint said he sees the demand as a demand that not only crosses political boundaries but also racial.
“We are not going to be involved in a street split in two by color,” he said.
Most of the street runs through Gentilly, a racially diverse part of District D of Brossett; part of it goes through Lakeview, a predominantly white neighborhood in the A quarter of Giarrusso.
Toussaint said more division was the last thing his father wanted after what was already a controversial process as new names for the streets were debated in recent months.
“The reason you change the name of these streets is because of what they meant. But if we would come in and say, “OK, we’re going to take the black section from Robert E. Lee and you could all have the white section,” my dad wouldn’t be a part of that. And we’re not going to be a part of that, ”Toussaint said.
In a statement, Brossett said he didn’t want to have a street with two names.
“It would be disrespecting the legacy of Mr. Toussaint. The whole street should be named in his honor,” he said.
Giarrusso issued a statement which reads in part: “Because District A has so many streets under consideration for name changes, we have been regularly and constantly in contact with neighbors and neighborhoods about their thoughts. . neighbors should have the greatest voice in these discussions. “
Toussaint, however, said he no longer wanted to talk about the idea.
“You don’t have to call me. You don’t have to text me, ”he said. “You now clearly know that we’re not interested in that. “