Amtrak pressured to comply with law renaming 30th Street Station after Bill Gray

Politician standing inside Philadelphia's train station

Former Mayor Wilson Goode speaks at news conference Friday where a coaltion of city, state and federal officials called on Amtrak to follow the law renaming Philadelphia's 30th Street Station for the late U.S. Rep. Bill Gray. (Tom MacDonald, WHYY)

An effort is underway to force Amtrak to change the name of 30th Street Station in Philadelphia to honor the legacy of the late U.S. Rep. Bill Gray.

But the agency has offered compromises including creating a park at the facility to honor the congressman and former head of the United Negro College Fund.

President Barack Obama signed a measure in 2014 calling for the name change.  The train hub in West Philly would become the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.

Gray, a Democrat, represented the 2nd Congressional District from 1979 to 1991. The first black majority whip in Congress, he was also the pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church. He died in 2013.

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State Rep. Curtis Thomas of the Urgency of Now Gray coalition said Amtrak has been fighting the change.

“Amtrak says that we’d like to put up a plaque, that Dr. Gray should be remembered with a plaque, and we have said a plaque is not sufficient,” Thomas said. “You cannot capture the rich history and legacy of Dr. Gray by putting up a plaque.”

Former Mayor W. Wilson Goode said there should be no debate on the issue.

“I don’t know of anyone else who has been a more effective elected official, more effective public servant or has gotten more done for this city, for this commonwealth and, indeed, for hundreds of thousands of children in this nation than William Herbert Gray,” said Goode, who was surrounded by city, state and federal officials Friday at the train station.

Amtrak issued a statement saying it is still working with the family to honor Gray properly.

“Over the last two years, Amtrak proposed ways to honor the career and legacy of the late Congressman William H. Gray III. We look forward to working with the family on how to appropriately honor and fund the recognition of Congressman Gray’s service to this area,” said Kimberly Woods of Amtrak’s media relations office.

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