Lawmaker attempts to have McKinney highway renamed

ATLANTA - Legislative Republicans are making a second attempt in four years to yank U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney's name from a highway in DeKalb County.

Rep. Len Walker, R-Loganville, whose district includes parts of eastern Gwinnett County, has pre-filed a resolution to rename the road in honor of Americans who died during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or serving their country in the wars that followed.

Under the resolution, portions of Georgia highways 10 and 154 now known as Cynthia McKinney Parkway would revert to Memorial Drive, the name of those roads before the General Assembly changed them in 2000 to honor the Democratic congresswoman.

McKinney, of Stone Mountain, is leaving Congress early next month after losing her bid for a seventh term in last summer's Democratic primary.

Elected in 1992 as Georgia's first black female member of Congress, she served for a decade before being ousted in the 2002 primary.

Her defeat that year was blamed in part on controversial statements she made following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in which she accused President Bush of having prior knowledge of the terrorists' plans.

McKinney made a political comeback in 2004, winning a sixth term after then-Rep. Denise Majette left the House in an unsuccessful bid for the Senate.

In 2003, state Senate Republicans sought to remove McKinney's name from the DeKalb parkway, but the effort fizzled and was withdrawn.

Rep. Stan Watson, D-Decatur, outgoing chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, predicted this new attempt also would fail.

For one thing, Watson said, Georgia's home-rule provisions require that proposed street renamings be approved by members of the affected county's legislative delegation. He said DeKalb County lawmakers aren't likely to support a change introduced by a lawmaker from another county.

"That's like me going to Walton County saying I want to change the name of Loganville," he said.

Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, chairman of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, said his organization would oppose the change.

"I don't necessarily like riding up Lester Maddox Parkway," Brooks said, referring to a road named after the late segregationist governor from Cobb County. "But I don't complain about it.

"This is kind of like a protest of Cynthia ... I would hope the legislature would not go down this road. It could be very racially divisive."

Just last year, Brooks and another Republican member of Gwinnett's House delegation, Rep. Mike Coan of Lawrenceville, worked together to steer to passage legislation wiping several of Georgia's old segregationist laws off the books.

Walker could not be reached Monday.