In Atlanta, Georgia airplanes fly into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport named after the city’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson. In Jackson, Mississippi the state’s largest airport has been named for slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
And of course frequent flyers know George Bush airport in Texas, JFK after President John F. Kennedy in New York and Washington Reagan Airport in Virginia after President Ronald Reagan.As recently as 2001, New Orleans changed the name of New Orleans International to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in honor of his 100th birthday. S
o for Maryland state house representatives to suggest that the Baltimore-Washington Airport, commonly called BWI be renamed in honor of Thurgood Marshall may not be an outlandish or flighty idea.Thurgood Marshall the nation’s first black supreme court justice and a well-known lawyer in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme court case and early legal defense fund leader for the National Association of Colored People.
In addition to being a former Howard University law professor, he is a legend of our time and a native of the Baltimore area.Ashton Stallworth a student at Morgan State University and a native of the Baltimore area says, “Although I don’t think changing the name of the BWI airport will make a big difference to most people who use the airport, the city should change it as a tribute to his great legacy in the area.”
He said that he could not name anything else significant that was named after Thurgood Marshall, but was very aware of his legacy.Thurgood Marshall is currently honored in Maryland with a statue outside of the state house in Annapolis and another statue outside of Baltimore’s federal courthouse.
Though the Maryland House approved a bill to add Marshall’s name to the airport, the measure has stalled in the Senate. Critics have cited the notion that the change would hurt Maryland’s efforts to market the airport as a gateway to the nation’s capital and the popular Baltimore area. I
n an Associated Press article, State Senator Paula Hollinger, who chairs Maryland’s Education, Health and Economic Affairs Committee said that she does not support the name change. Her vote will determine if the airport name change happens, because it would fall under her committee. Hollinger, who is white, told Associated Press that she believes something should be named for Marshall, but considered it more appropriate that the honor be related to the state’s court system.
“I think it’s important to keep his name up there so people will remember his legacy,” said Hollinger. Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns is the bill’s sponsor and said his supporters would not stop before the airport and not just a wing or special section is named for Marshall.
“We are told we may lose the competitive edge if we put the name Thurgood Marshall on the marquee. Isn’t that strange?” Burns is quoted as saying at a rally before an evening sessions of the Senate and House of Delegates.
“They didn’t stop flying into Reagan National” when the airport serving the nations’ capital was renamed to honor the former president, Burns said. Howard University student Felicia Henderson said, “I think that law makers will not react and actually change the name until they are basically forced to by constituents. If the Black community really wants this to happen, they will have to start sending petitions and making their voice heard now.”