Former Mayor Wilson Goode honored with street renaming amid protests

City officials have renamed a portion of N. 59th Street, "Wilson Goode Way."

Cherri Gregg
September 21, 2018 - 2:49 pm
Wilson Goode Way

Cherri Gregg | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode was celebrated in Overbrook Friday with a ceremony naming a portion of N. 59th Street "Wilson Goode Way." But protesters rallied during the event, blaming the Baptist minister for the 1985 MOVE tragedy. 

A few dozen protesters, including members of the MOVE organization and others, stood behind barricades rallying.

During the ceremony celebrating a man who opened the door for black political leaders, Goode, Sr. took responsibility for the tragedy that claimed 11 lives and burned down homes.

"I was responsible, I am going to man up," Goode said. "[But> I refuse to be defined by one day in my life."

Goode pointed to his record, aiding black businesses and hundreds of thousands of children with incarcerated parents that caused City Council to approve the street renaming.

The 80-year-old stood firm, accepting the honor.

RELATED: MOVE members, residents blast street naming in former Philly mayor's honor

"My body of work that one would recommend that I deserve this," Goode said.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says Goode has done great things for the city.

"The convention center, the first African-American mayor in the city," Kenney said, "and since he's not been mayor, he's been an extremely good citizen."

But protestors also stood firm, threatening to deface or tear down the street sign. Pam Africa is planning future acts of resistance.

"May 13th 2019, this whole area is going to be shut down," she said.

Mayor Jim Kenney said if the sign is torn down, it will be replaced.