Stretch of road in Los Angeles renamed Obama Boulevard

A newly unveiled Obama Boulevard sign is seen in Los Angeles, Saturday, May. 4, 2019. A stretch of road in Los Angeles was renamed after former President Barack Obama during a festival and unveiling ceremony Saturday. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
A woman holds a banner of the Obama Boulevard in Los Angeles, Saturday, May. 4, 2019. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. It will also intersect with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and further establish a "presidential row" that includes Washington, Adams and Jefferson boulevards. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Obama_Boulevard_43710 Midori Bastien, second from right, and Jameela Hammond have their photo taken with the newly unveiled Obama Boulevard sign in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 4, 2019. A stretch of road in Los Angeles was renamed after former President Barack Obama during a festival and unveiling ceremony Saturday. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Obama_Boulevard_92574 A woman holds a poster with the images of Martin Luther King Jr., left, and former President Barack Obama at the unveiling ceremony of Obama Boulevard in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 4, 2019. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. It will also intersect with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and further establish a "presidential row" that includes Washington, Adams and Jefferson boulevards. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Obama_Boulevard_44322 People take pictures with the newly unveiled Obama Boulevard sign in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 4, 2019. A stretch of road in Los Angeles was renamed after former President Barack Obama during a festival and unveiling ceremony Saturday. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Obama_Boulevard_53779 Thousands of people attend a concert and ceremony unveiling Obama Boulevard with Los Angeles City officials on Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. It will also intersect with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and further establish a "presidential row" that includes Washington, Adams and Jefferson boulevards. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Obama_Boulevard_14278 Los Angeles City officials at podium on right, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, from left, Mayor Eric Garcetti, State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Los Angeles Urban League President and CEO Matthew Lawson, unveil the Obama Boulevard sign in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 4, 2019. A stretch of road in Los Angeles was renamed after former President Barack Obama during a festival and unveiling ceremony. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Obama_Boulevard_12874 A newly unveiled Obama Boulevard sign is seen in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 4, 2019. A stretch of road in Los Angeles was renamed after former President Barack Obama during a festival and unveiling ceremony Saturday. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Obama_Boulevard_68509 A woman holds a banner of the Obama Boulevard in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 4, 2019. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. It will also intersect with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and further establish a "presidential row" that includes Washington, Adams and Jefferson boulevards. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Obama_Boulevard_97660 FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2016, file photo, President Barack Obama speaks at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., about the administration's approach to counterterrorism campaign. A stretch of road in Los Angeles will be renamed after former President Barack Obama during a festival and unveiling ceremony Saturday, May 4, 2019. Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs from Culver City to mid-city Los Angeles, passing the city's historic black neighborhood. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Obama_Boulevard_46169 FILE - In this May 7, 2014, file photo, then President Barack Obama meets with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, as he arrives in Los Angeles, for a series of fundraisers during his visit to Southern California. A stretch of road in Los Angeles will be renamed after former President Barack Obama during a festival and unveiling ceremony Saturday, May 4, 2019. Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs from Culver City to mid-city Los Angeles, passing the city's historic black neighborhood. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
Obama_Boulevard_34855 FILE - In this Thursday Dec. 20, 2018, file photo, signs have gone up naming a section of a Los Angeles-area freeway as the President Barack H. Obama Highway, seen from Pasadena, Calif. The former president attended Occidental College in Eagle Rock from 1979 to 1981 and lived in Pasadena. A stretch of road in Los Angeles will be renamed after former President Barack Obama during a festival and unveiling ceremony Saturday, May 4, 2019. Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs from Culver City to mid-city Los Angeles, passing the city's historic black neighborhood. (AP Photo/John Antczak, File)
Obama_Boulevard_33431 Los Angeles City officials at podium on right, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, from left, Mayor Eric Garcetti, State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Los Angeles Urban League President and CEO Matthew Lawson, unveil the Obama Boulevard sign in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 4, 2019. The Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city's historic black neighborhood. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A stretch of road in Los Angeles has been renamed after former President Barack Obama.

A concert and ceremony Saturday unveiled Obama Boulevard. The street replaced Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs across the city’s historic black neighborhood. It also intersects with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and further establishes a “presidential row” that includes Washington, Adams and Jefferson boulevards.

“I get to live in a lifetime where we elected our first black president,” The Rev. Russell Thornhill of South Los Angeles told KABC TV. “I get to share that with my mother, who’s 92 years old who voted and actually went to the inauguration. I called her before I came here to let her know what I was doing, and she was just in tears because she was seeing in her lifetime … the naming of a street of the first black president in this community.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti noted at Saturday’s ceremony that Obama Boulevard is in a section of the city that has a number of other streets named after presidents, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“As we drive through this city and we see past presidents on Adams, on Washington, on Jefferson, now we’ll have one that was in our lifetime, who was a president for everybody: Barack Hussein Obama,” Garcetti said.

A couple who proposed the name change told the Times they wanted to raise the profile of the road, attract more funding for the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw neighborhood and honor the 44th president.

“With this change, we are publicly documenting what Obama’s legacy as our nation’s first black President means to our city and our South Los Angeles community,” City Council President Herb Wesson said in a statement.

“For every child who will drive down this street and see the President’s name, this will serve as a physical reminder that no goal is out of reach and that no dream is too big.”

While residents were receptive to having a street named after Obama, some believed organizers should have chosen a more prominent street. Wesson argued Rodeo Road was symbolically important: The road is home to Rancho Cienega Sports Complex, where Obama held a campaign rally when he was running for president in 2007.

For decades, discriminatory practices, including the use of racially restrictive covenants on deeds to keep people of color from buying homes, kept the area off-limits to non-whites.

After the U.S. Supreme Court banned housing discrimination, and segregation was scaled back, black residents moved into the formerly white enclave of Baldwin Hills and established the first of L.A.’s black middle- and upper-class neighborhoods.

Black-owned businesses and cultural activities once thrived on Crenshaw Boulevard. But over the years, they struggled and there are ongoing efforts to revitalize the commercial corridor.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a political analyst and author who has lived in the area for 50 years, said he hopes the name change will lead to more investments in the neighborhood.

“The area needs not just street name change, but also fresh programs, initiatives and spending on jobs, education, and housing programs for the mostly black and Hispanic low-income residents that live on or near Obama Boulevard,” Hutchinson said. “This will truly be the greatest way to pay tribute to Obama.”

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This story has been corrected to show that the road being renamed is Rodeo Road, not Rodeo Boulevard.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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