For six years, Mallory York’s barber shop sat on Lamar Street. People referred to the area as South Lamar, so he called his business Shaving Bar on Lamar.
“See that brand?” York asked the City Council in April. “I put that together like that. It took time to do that.” Most businesses don’t last six months, he said. “I’ve been here all these years and you guys changed the name to Botham,'' he said.
Just the month before, Dallas unveiled a new name for the portion of Lamar where York’s business sits. Now, it’s called Botham Jean Boulevard. York said he and other business owners on that portion of what used to be Lamar want the street name changed back. Meanwhile, activists in Dallas want the rest of the street to bear Jean’s name.
The street was originally named for Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas, who fought to nullify federal laws and U.S. Supreme Court rulings regarding slavery and Native American removal. He also opposed the annexation of the state into the U.S. because he supported slavery.
Jean was shot dead on Sept. 6, 2018, in his own apartment on Lamar Street. by Amber Guyger, at the time a Dallas police officer. She claimed she mistakenly entered Jean's apartment believing it was hers one floor below and killed Jean because she believed he was an intruder. Guyger was convicted of murder in October 2019.
Dallas activists wanted to honor Jean, so Yafeuh Balogun, Pamela Grayson and Davante Peters formed the Botham Jean Memorial Committee with permission from the family to pursue the name change of Lamar Street. The three were the main faces behind Botham Jean Boulevard in the beginning. The effort was later picked up by City Council member Adam Medrano. He filed a memo for the change, but it only included a portion of Lamar.
The City Council unanimously approved the name change in January, and the new signs with Jean’s name were installed in March. “I am elated that we got the street name change,” Alissa Charles-Findley, Jean’s sister, said at the time of the City Council vote.
York wasn’t so excited, though. He said he’s collected signatures from residents and business owners in the area in support of changing the name back to Lamar. “They took our historical district, which was South Lamar,” he said. “I think I’ve established myself in this community, in the Cedars community, and y’all left this dark cloud over us, and no one’s gotten back to me.”
He said he and others are considering moving out of the area if they can’t get the name changed back. York said since the change, they’ve had trouble with their mail, people don’t know where to find them and they’ll have to completely overhaul their branding if the street remains Botham Jean Boulevard.
Jean’s name would have been better suited for a small side street, York said, but not a main one.
“Botham was over here maybe a year before this happened,” York said. “All this about how he lived over here, I mean, he did for a little while, but he wasn’t here that long because of the tragedy that happened to him.”
He said he was also upset that only a portion of the street was renamed. “Only the south got it and that wasn’t fair,” York said. “You guys should do better than that.”
York said he’ll be filing an application to get the street changed back to Lamar. If they can’t get the name change reversed, York said he’ll move, but not before suing the city. If he has to move, he wants the city to pay for it.
"We are prepared to continue honoring the life and legacy of Botham Jean," said Balogun. "This will include educating the community about what occurred on Sept. 6, 2018, in addition to advocating for the change of North Lamar to Botham Jean Boulevard."
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