Citing Racist Legacy, Las Vegas Leader Urges Renaming of McCarran Airport

Amid a current wave of civil unrest and widespread public calls for the removal or revision of America’s monuments, institutions, brands, etc. having racially-charged origins, a local leader is pushing for the rechristening of Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.

The airport was named back in 1948 in honor of Senator Patrick McCarran, who represented Nevada from 1933 until his death in 1954 and was considered a major proponent of the aviation industry during its formative years in the 1930s, sponsoring key legislation that would ultimately help shape modern-day air travel.

However, current Clark County Commissioner, Tick Segerblom, has criticized the legacy that the Senator left to Las Vegas, calling it characterized by racism, antisemitism and xenophobia. “Pat McCarran was an evil man,” Segerblom said in an interview with KTNV Las Vegas.

“Our kids grow up hearing about McCarran airport…but they don’t realize we are honoring somebody who didn’t believe I should even be a citizen or have the right to vote. That’s wrong,” said Segerblom. “We are a multicultural, multi-ethnic city, and for our airport to be named after a racist anti-Semite and other things is just unacceptable.”

Critics of his efforts to scrap the airport’s present appellation argue that McCarran played a critical part in the city’s history and that attempting to strip his name from Las Vegas won’t alter that fact.

Segerblom had already put forth a proposal in 2017, requesting a name-change for the airport to the “Harry Reid International Airport” (in honor of the Nevada Senator who served from 1987 to 2017) or some variation thereof, but the bill was ultimately rejected. Segerblom said that pushback proceeded from opponents’ feelings that Reid was too partisan to serve as a replacement for the McCarran name.

“First off, I want to get rid of the name but secondly, I want to honor Senator Reid. He is really the father of modern Nevada,” said Segerblom.

Reportedly, a change-of-title approval for the airport would require a majority four-person vote by the Clark County Commission. Should the change actually occur in the near future, it would cost an estimated $2 million to replace all of the signage, logos, letterhead, graphics, etc. that currently bear the McCarran name—funds which Segerblom assures he would be able to raise privately.

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