The fourth floor conference room in the Busch Building, where Springfield City Council holds their weekly lunch sessions along with other planning meetings, has been named after former City Council member Denny Whayne.
Whayne was the first African-American elected to City Council since the current form of city government was adopted in 1953. He served as the Council member from Zone 1 from 2001 through 2009.
Mayor Ken McClure spoke to those attending the event about Councilman’s Whayne’s effectiveness as an advocate for Zone 1 during this time on Council. The Mayor then spoke about discovering all the things Councilman Whayne has done through this life in the cause of civil rights both locally and nationally.
“We on City Council realized we had a giant in our midst,” McClure said.
McClure said the council quickly realized that naming the conference room after Whayne would be a proper tribute to Whayne’s efforts throughout his life to bring people together.
“How fitting to name this after Denny because this Council and successive Councils are going to be here on a regular basis,” McClure said. “They will see what this man has done.”
Whayne said that while he was honored by the conference room’s renaming in his honor, this was bigger than just him.
“It wasn’t about me, it was about we,” Whayne said. “You see, if you turn me upside down you get we. We stand here, most appreciative and most grateful and humbled that the Mayor and the city council had the thought of doing something for Springfield.”
“This is not about me, this is about Springfield.”
Whayne spoke of the importance of everyone working together because we all have a common trait.
“We are bound by our citizenship,” he said.
Whayne grew up in Springfield and began his work for civil rights in the area before moving to Tulsa in the 1960s. After returning to Springfield in 1972, he served as President of the local NAACP chapter and spent a decade working in the city’s Finance department.