Bagai's granddaughter said her grandmother understood the importance of a welcoming community and welcoming strangers: “I can think of no better person to name a street for, to symbolize a welcoming community and nation ... no one who better exemplifies generosity of spirit, than my grandmother,” she said.
The street's renaming is part of a $10.3 million project called the Shattuck Avenue reconfiguration project. Prior to Tuesday's City Council meeting, the city of Berkeley collected more than 1,000 name proposals and narrowed down the list to 10.
Kala Bagai was born in 1892 in Amritsar, now India, and moved to the Bay Area with her husband, Vaishno Das Bagai, and their three children in 1915. When they tried to move into a Berkeley home they purchased, racist neighbors blocked them from entering. Bagai was one of the first South Asian women on the West Coast and an early immigrant activist and community builder.