Legislators Vow to Rename Cynthia McKinney Parkway

Legislators Vow to Rename Cynthia McKinney Parkway

The latest controversy involving the former Democratic congresswoman has prompted a move to strip her name from highways.

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Cynthia McKinney Parkway is a part of Memorial Drive, which runs from Stone Mountain to downtown Atlanta.
Cynthia McKinney Parkway is a part of Memorial Drive, which runs from Stone Mountain to downtown Atlanta.

Expressing disgust with Cynthia McKinney, who recently accused “Zionists” of responsibility for the 9/11 terror attacks, two state legislators want her name removed from Georgia roadways.

On June 28, the former six-term Democratic congresswoman from Georgia posted an image of the final piece being added to a puzzle that showed smoke billowing from the World Trade Center towers in New York City struck by hijacked airliners on Sept. 11, 2001.

McKinney’s comment read: “The Final Piece of the Puzzle . . .”

The puzzle pieces read: “Zionists did it.”

Cynthia McKinney is a six-term Democratic congresswoman.

Democratic Rep. Mike Wilensky, the lone Jewish member of the General Assembly, told the AJT that when the legislature convenes in January, he and Republican Sen. Cecil Terrell “Butch” Miller will make their effort part of a larger bill dealing with the naming and renaming of roadways.

“We are currently in discussion of what it will be changed to, whether it will be changed to another name or a road, but we are in agreement it won’t be anything partisan,” Wilensky said. “The goal right now is, we have until January to inform everybody of what has occurred, why it so bad. This isn’t ‘Oh, it could be interpreted as antisemitism.’ On a level of one to 10 of antisemitism, this is an 11, as horrible as it could be.”

As of this writing, McKinney has not responded to AJT invitations to comment.

Butch Miller is a Republican state senator.

The Cynthia McKinney Parkway was created by legislation signed into law May 1, 2000, by then Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat. That designation covers state Highway 154 from Candler Road to state Highway 10 in DeKalb County and a portion of Highway 10 from its intersection with Highway 154 to U.S. Highway 78 in DeKalb County.

On 9/11, 19 members of the Islamist terror organization Al Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners. Two were flown into the World Trade Center towers, one slammed into the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa., following a struggle between the hijackers and passengers. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks, as were more than 340 New York firefighters who responded to the World Trade Center towers.

Despite evidence to the contrary, conspiracy theorists have continued to blame Jews, Israelis or Zionists. The assignment of such unfounded blame is considered antisemitic.

McKinney’s 9/11 puzzle post is the latest in a litany about Jews, Israel or Zionists. According to the Anti-Defamation League, “McKinney has a history of using anti-Israel rhetoric, including accusing the pro-Israel lobby of sabotaging her political career and alleging that Israel [committed] genocide, apartheid and war crimes. She has repeatedly condemned U.S. support for Israel.”

Anat Sultan-Dadon is Israel’s consul general to the Southeast.

Anat Sultan-Dadon, Israel’s consul general to the Southeast, responded on Twitter, calling McKinney’s comment “An outrageous expression of #antisemitism. This is not merely an enraging blood libel. This is dangerous. No matter where you stand, such virulent hate must be unequivocally condemned by all.”

The next day, Miller wrote on Twitter, “Cynthia McKinney’s comments are indefensible, as well as nuts. Next year, I’ll introduce legislation to change the name of the road in DeKalb that’s named for her because we refuse to honor those who spew hate.”

McKinney was elected in 1992 to represent the 11th Congressional District. She was re-elected in 1994, but after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled the district’s borders to be unconstitutional, McKinney was elected in 1996 to represent the newly drawn 4th District.

She was re-elected in 1998 and 2000, before losing the 2002 Democratic primary to Denise Majette. McKinney won the 4th District seat again in 2004 when Majette made an unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid. McKinney was defeated by Hank Johnson in the 2006 Democratic primary.

In 2008, she was the Green Party’s presidential candidate.

The Cynthia McKinney Parkway is not the only road whose designation has been controversial. Another is the “James E. ‘Billy’ McKinney Highway,” a stretch of Interstate 285 between Interstate 20 and Interstate 75 in Cobb County, named for McKinney’s late father, who was a Democratic state representative. In 2002, he told an Atlanta television station that “Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-E-W-S” and were responsible for his daughter’s primary loss.

Mike Wilensky is a Democratic state representative.

The Interstate 75 bridge over the Chattahoochee River is named the “Lester and Virginia Maddox Bridge.” Lester Maddox, the Democratic governor of Georgia from 1967-71, came to national prominence when he refused to serve Black customers at his Atlanta restaurant, The Pickrick, following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

On one occasion, Maddox confronted would-be Black customers with a pickaxe handle; on another, with a pistol while customers wielded pickaxe handles, euphemistically called “Pickrick drumsticks.” Maddox later closed the restaurant rather than integrate, claiming that President Lyndon B. Johnson and communists had put him out of business.

A portion of Highway 23 in Habersham County is named for Thomas E. Watson, an agrarian populist politician and publisher in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whose newspaper inflamed passions against Jews during the 1913 murder trial of Leo Frank.

Wilensky said of Cynthia McKinney Parkway, “Over time, maybe not this year, I’m going to look into those other roadways. Right now my goal is this one parkway.”

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