Last year, a Springfield neo-Nazi adopted a stretch of highway to pick up trash at least four times a year.This group also got state lawmakers looking at renaming that highway after a civil rights activist.But now, his daughter is speaking out against using her father’s name on a highway being cleaned by neo-Nazis.KSMU’s Erika Brame has more.
Right now, I’m standing next to a sign on West Bypass just north of Sunshine St. The sign beside me says this portion of the highway has been adopted by the National Socialist Movement Springfield Unit—that’s a neo-Nazi group.Missouri lawmakers have decided to rename this portion of the highway after a civil rights leader, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.But Heschel’s daughter says that’s the last thing her father would have wanted. One lawmaker to support renaming the road was Representative Sara Lampe of Springfield.
“We have visited with Dr. Heschel and we did come to a compromise with her on the placement of that sign. Her biggest worry had to do with the fact that his sign would be desecrated in some way,” she said.
Dr. Susannah Heschel told the Associated Press that using her father’s name to teach neo-Nazis a lesson and have them cleaning a highway named for him is inappropriate.Lampe says the highway designation is meant to honor his teachings.
“I believe he would say we have to stand. We have to do the thing that is difficult. We have to become public. We have to let the other side be heard,” she said.Lampe says she’s received hundreds of e-mails from around the world in response to this issue, with the majority of people supporting the state’s decision to rename part of the highway. She also says that the members of this group have the right to participate as much as anyone else in the Adopt-A-Highway program.KSMU tried to contact the National Socialist Movement for a comment, but we were unable to reach a spokesperson.This isn’t the first time Missouri lawmakers have renamed a highway in response to a group participating in the Adopt-A-Highway program.2000, after the Ku Klux Klan won the right to participate in the program, a state lawmaker sponsored a bill to rename that highway after civil rights activist Rosa Parks.Many people supported that bill and that stretch of highway is now named after Rosa Parks.The bill renaming the Springfield stretch of highway after Rabbi Heschel is on its way to Governor Nixon’s desk for approval as part of a larger transportation bill.For KSMU News, I’m Erika Brame.