Some OU students, councilwoman push for DeBarr Ave. name change

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NORMAN, Okla. — A group of University of Oklahoma students are joining a city councilwoman to push for a change of a street named after a prominent Ku Klux Klan member.

DeBarr Avenue, which is right behind Campus Corner in Norman, is named after Edwin DeBarr.

“I'm a little bit of an OU history buff, so I knew already about DeBarr and I thought, wow, the man still has a street,” said J.D. Baker, president of OU’s Student Government Association.

DeBarr was one of OU’s first four professors.

“We're actually standing next to the chemistry building that was actually named after him. It was removed in the 80s by the regents after efforts from the students, because it had been discovered that Edwin DeBarr was not only a grand dragon of the KKK in Oklahoma, he was a grand dragon during the most brutal time in the KKK's Oklahoma history,” said Breea Clark, Ward 6 city councilwoman.

DeBarr then went on to become the KKK’s national chaplain. That’s one reason why Clark wants to change the name of DeBarr Avenue.

“Student Government Association, we passed legislation both through congress and our senate just this past month basically supporting the city's efforts or the councilwoman's efforts to take down the name DeBarr,” Baker said.

However, not everyone is being supportive.

Some of the property owners have concerns about the inconvenience it would cause.

“Property deeds, rental agreements and being mindful of all the rental property we do have there I think, if we are successful in making the change, it would need to be at the end of a rental period,” Clark said.

Clark said she has also received some opposition from sentimental current or past DeBarr Avenue residents.

In order for the change to happen, Clark said 75 percfent of the property owners need to be on board. Right now, only 55 percent support the proposal.

However, Clark said she isn’t giving up.

“'We have an opportunity to make a difference. OU did it 30 years ago, and it's time we take the next step here in Norman and remove the street name as well,” Clark said.

If all of the property owners jump on board, Clark said they will allow them to rename the street.

There has been some talk about renaming it after Dr. George Henderson who founded OU’s human relations department and was the first black property owner in Norman.

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