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Street Named in Honor of Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick on Native South Side

By Quinn Ford | June 7, 2013 7:59pm
Deval Patrick Way
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WASHINGTON PARK — Outside her home Friday, Carrie Jones leaned on her cane and watched as Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick walked up and down the block followed by a throng of reporters.

"I'm so proud of him, so proud," Jones said.

Patrick returned to the Washington Park neighborhood where he grew up to see a portion of Wabash Avenue near 53rd Street renamed "Deval Patrick Way" in his honor.

Patrick, 56, grew up near the Robert Taylor Homes and attended Mary C. Terrell School before receiving a scholarship to attend school in Massachusetts. The Harvard University graduate went on to have a sucessful career as a lawyer and business executive before entering politics.

Jones said she has seen and read all about that in newspapers and on television, but Jones also said she remembers the Massachusetts governor as the "nice boy" who grew up just across the street from her.

And Patrick remembered Jones too.

"In the '50s and '60s, every child was under the jurisdiction of every single adult on the block," Patrick said at a ceremony unveiling the honorary street sign. "So if you messed up down the street in front of Ms. Jones, she'd go upside your head as if you were hers."

Patrick said Jones' attitude instilled in him a sense of community where each person has a stake in the "dreams and struggles" of every neighbor.

Elected officials — from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to U.S. Rep Danny Davis to Ald. Pat Dowell — lined up to praise Patrick.

Dowell, who submitted the street name change to the City Council, said the decision was easy, especially after seeing Patrick's speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Dowell said Patrick was an example for Chicago's children, like the Beasely Elementary students who had gathered to watch the ceremony.

"It just shows all the young people here you can go anywhere you want in the world," she said. "You can start on Wabash Avenue and you can end up on Pennsylvania Avenue."

Patrick said he had avoided receiving the honorary street "for a long time" because he felt there were many other people who were deserving.

When asked how he felt about beating President Barack Obama to the punch when it came to having a street named after him, Patrick laughed.

"It's not that kind of relationship," he said.

But the man who once split bunk beds with his sister and cousin and spent every third night sleeping on the floor told the Beasely students he hopes the street name will inspire children like them to ask "Who was that?"

"And what will come back to you is a story not about me but a story about your own possibility," he said.

Patrick was first elected governor in 2006, and was reelected last year. He became familiar to many Americans as he oversaw the efforts of local law enforcement to find Dzokhar Tsarnaev, one of the men suspected of carrying out the bombing of the Boston Marathon in April.