CHICAGO - Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford is proposing to rename Chicago's Cicero Avenue to "Mandela Road" in honor of the late South African president. The 66-mile route runs directly through Chicago's neighborhoods, along Midway International Airport, from Kankakee in the south to Skokie in the north. Ford said in an emotional press statement:
"President Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to many and has been an example during our own lifetimes of the power of love, reconciliation, and non-violent resistance, following in the line of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."
Ford said the name change would be "a small gesture to drive for excellence for the whole human race."
"Illinois Route 50 is the perfect state highway to be renamed, as it crosses so many different communities and will remind us of the almost miraculous work that Nelson Mandela understood as he brought together people in his own county and all over the world to advance peace, democracy and opportunity. His work should be an inspiration for us to work for these same goals," said Ford.
Ford has launched an online petition for those that support his proposal.
Ford, 41, was in Chicago headlines a year ago. He faces federal charges that he made false statements to a bank to obtain a $500,000 increase on a credit line. Ford says he's not guilty of the charges, escaped expulsion from the Illinois House and was re-elected by his Chicago district voters in November 2012. The feds say Ford used the credit line to payoff gambling debts instead of rehabilitating properties as alleged statements on the loan application indicated.