NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Just days away from the late Rep. John Lewis’ birthday, Nashville community members rallied in Public Square Park to keep a stretch of Fifth Avenue named after him. 

Metro Councilwoman At Large Zulfat Suara recalled her efforts, along with those of other Nashvillians, to rename part of the road in 2021.  

“When we were looking at a place to name after him, we were looking at a street that have a lot of connections to him,” Zulfat said. “And we landed on Fifth Avenue.”

Zulfat explained how part of Fifth Avenue is home to rich history, directly linked to Lewis. He led lunch counter sit-ins at the Woolworth Theater, he was a freedom rider marked by bus stations along Fifth Avenue, and he was also honored with an award from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Ryman.  

“This is a very bad idea on so many levels,” said Zulfat. “You want to honor somebody? Find a place that they’re related to, find a place where people want it. That’s what we did.”

Changing part of the street name to President Donald Trump Boulevard also doesn’t sit right with Zulfat’s daughter, who helped organize the rally on Saturday, Feb. 18.

“It was just a street full of history towards him anyway, so I think trying to name it after someone who doesn’t have any connection with Nashville overall isn’t the best idea,” high school student Safiyah Suara said. 

Others have found merit in the bill. So far, it’s advanced the transportation committee in both the House and the Senate, but it’s still in the early stages. 

However, those who rallied Saturday said they hope their voices will be heard. 

“I’m very proud of the young people that are doing this, especially my daughter,” Zulfat said. “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, and I’m just so proud that they got it and they’re doing it.”

| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County

Organizers of Saturday’s rally said they have a petition opposing the bill that has already garnered over 15,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, News 2 has reached out to the bill’s sponsors, but we have yet to hear back.