SPRINGFIELD– The Illinois House on Friday unanimously approved the renaming of a portion of Cicero Avenue in Chicago to commemorate former South African President Nelson Mandela.
The resolution, proposed by state Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, will change part of Cicero Avenue to “Mandela Road,” beginning at West Roosevelt Road and ending at West Grand Avenue. Ford said he’d be in favor of someday naming the entire road after Mandela.
“It’s an honor for me to carry such a resolution to dedicate parts of Illinois streets to Mandela, who was about freedom and fairness and opportunity,” Ford said. “That’s what the community I represent, that’s what we need more than anything. It’s what the entire state needs.”
Ford said the $20,000 price tag for new signs, which comes with naming Mandela Road, will come out of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s existing capital funds.
Mandela, who died in December at the age of 95, was recognized for being a freedom fighter and the moral compass of his nation. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mandela worked to peaceably end the apartheid regime in South Africa, transitioning the nation away from its system of racial segregation.
In 1994, Mandela became the first democratically elected president in South Africa. Under his administration, he worked to give health care, education electricity, water access to millions of South Africans who lacked these services.
“We can’t go wrong with a Mandela road in Illinois for all that he withstood everything that he fought for and the change that he made, not only for his country but for… the whole world,” Ford said. “When we read history, people will go back to the way Mandela handled his circumstances and he will be a model individual for humanity. And that’s what we need.”