Tempe City Council votes to rename places named after KKK members: Here's what you should know

Members of the Tempe City Council are have voted to rename a number of streets and places in the East Valley city.

The streets are currently named after KKK members, and the newly-approved street names are those of people who spent their lives serving the Tempe community.

Here's what you should know about the potential name change.

What places are going to be affected by the name change?

According to the City of Tempe's website, historical research has determined that several parks are streets in the city were named after documented members of an area KKK chapter in the 1920s.

The places affected include:

  • Harelson Park
  • Hudson Lane
  • Hudson Park
  • East Laird Street
  • West Laird Street
  • Redden Park

Officials with the City of Tempe say the discovery was made following a research by Tempe History Museum staff members, using records from the Arizona Historical Society and the Phoenix Public Library.

Where are these places located?

Tempe city officials have drawn a map to show where these places are located.

  • Harelson Park: Near Warner Road and Kyrene Road, next to Kyrene de la Mariposa Elementary School
  • Hudson Lane: Near Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard
  • Hudson Park: South of Apache Boulevard, in between Rural Road and McClintock Drive
  • East Laird Street: Near University Drive and the Loop 101 Price Freeway.
  • West Laird Street: Near Priest Drive and University Drive
  • Redden Park: Along Lakeshore Drive south of Guadalupe Road

(Click here for interactive map)

When did they find out about the names?

According to city documents, the findings were presented during City Council Work Study Session that was held on Oct. 21, 2021.

In a memorandum issued by Tempe city officials, the naming origins of the places affected are clearly stated.

  • Harelson Park: Named after Jarvey Samuel Harelson, who served on the Tempe City Council in the 1920s, and was a member of the Tempe Union High School board.
  • Hudson Lane and Hudson Park: Named in part or in whole after Estmer W. Hudson, a landowner and cotton farm owner in the Phoenix area who later transitioned into real estate, and built a neighborhood known as Hudson Manor.
  • East and West Laird Streets: Named after the grandchildren of Hugh E. Laird, who served as Tempe's mayor for 14 years, and was a state lawmaker.
  • Redden Park: Named after the Redden Family. Two members of that family - Byron A. Redden and Lowell E. Redden, were in a KKK chapter in the area that was known as Butte Klan No. 3. Byron was a member of the Tempe Union High School District board.

A presentation prepared by the Tempe History Museum shows Harelson, Hudson, Laird, and the two Reddens listed above as having paid dues to the KKK chapter.

Initially, officials said Hudson Drive was also listed as having been named after a KKK member, but subsequent research shows that was not the case.

Weren't there schools that were also named after KKK leaders?


According to Tempe city officials, three schools within the Tempe School District were also named after KKK leaders.

The schools, according to officials, were Gililland Middle School, Hudson Elementary School, and Laird School.

Are they renaming the schools?

The schools were renamed in 2022, according to officials with the Tempe School District.

Specifically, Hudson Elementary School was renamed as Joseph P. Spracale Elementary School, Gililland Milddle School was renamed as Geneva Epps Mosley Middle School, and Laird School was renamed as Cecil Shamley School, 

So, what are the proposed new names?

A document prepared by Tempe city officials listed the proposed names:

  • Mary & Moses Green Park for Harelson Park. Mary and Moses Green were the first African-American landowners in what is now Tempe
  • Thomas Lane for Hudson Lane. New name recognizes Maggie and Theodore Thomas, who were an African-American pioneer family and business owners.
  • Parque de Soza for Hudson Park, in recognition of a multigenerational pioneer family, the Sozas.
  • Obregon Street for East Laird Street, after pioneer family Pete Obregon.
  • Romo-Jones List for West Laird Street, after husband and wife pioneers Adolfo Romo and Joaquina Jones. According to officials, they fought and won a court battle for their children to be able to attend school with white children
  • Michelle Brooks-Totress Park for Redden Park, after a community activist, philanthropist and volunteer.

In addition, the city is also proposing to rename Sixth Street Park as Ragsdale-MLK Park, in honor of Martin Luther King and local civil rights activist Lincoln Ragsdale. Meanwhile, an area south of University Drive and east of Rural Road will be designated as "Rancho de Sotelo,"

What are people saying about the name change?

We spoke with the descendent of Obregon, Dominick Flores, on Feb. 17.

"Shocking. Something my mom wanted to work on years ago," said Flores. "I'm very honored for myself, our family, my grandfather, my grandmother."

Flores said Obregon was born in Tempe in 1899, before the city was even established.

"[Obregon] died in 1991, so he was here all of his life," said Flores.

Flores explains, he had to request the street name through the City of Tempe. According to city documents, East Laird Street was originally set to be named Ragsdale Street, after Lincoln Ragsdale.

Ultimately, Tempe city officials honored Flores' request, based on Obregon's lifelong service and devotion to his community.

"He worked at the old flour mill. He was a bailer. Had his own business. He also helped build the Catholic church on University," said Flores.

Flores also grew up close to what could soon be named Obregon Street, so to have it named after someone he respected and loved is pretty special.

"It's an honor to have a Hispanic name in our neighborhood, representing the culture and who we are," said Flores.

I live on a street that will be renamed. What's going to happen to me?

Tempe city officials say residents impacted will be eligible for reimbursement of some of the costs related to the address change, such as the cost of a new driver's license.

According to city documents, residents could have a $100 reimbursement caps for expenses incurred as a result of the renamings, with exceptions made for unforeseen circumstances that are otherwise not specified in the documents.

How much are the renamings going to cost?

According to a budget presentation made during a meeting on the renaming on Dec. 7, 2022, city officials estimate the renaming to cost anywhere from $14,843.56 to $101.843.56.

Data from the presentation shows an estimated $1,343.56 in labor, equipment and material to replace the street signs on the two Laird Streets and Hudson Lane, as well as an estimated $7,000 in household costs, consisting of driver's license replacement costs and miscellaneous costs related to the replacement of checks, business cards, and other items. City officials estimate that only 20% of the people affected will have miscellaneous costs.

Meanwhile, city officials estimate the replacement of signs and monuments at the three parks impacted to cost anywhere from $6,500 to $93,500, depending on whether the city chooses to grind down the park monuments before repainting, or replace the monuments altogether.

How many people will the renaming affect?

City officials, in their budget presentation, estimate that 175 households could be impacted by address change associated with the renamings.

When will the streets be renamed?

According to city documents, the renamings could happen by July or August of 2023. 

Are there other cities in the Valley that are looking at renaming streets?


In March 2021, we reported that the City of Phoenix installed new signs from two city streets whose names are considered to be offensive. The two streets renamed are Squaw Peak Drive (now called Piestewa Peak Drive) and Robert E. Lee Street (now known as Desert Cactus Street).

The two streets were renamed, after members of the Phoenix City Council approved the name change in 2020. The former name of Piestewa Peak Drive contains a word that is considered to be demeaning to Native American women, while the Desert Cactus Street was formerly named after a Confederate general during the Civil War.

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