Dec. 15, 2013 @ 05:09 AM
There are at least 730 American cities that have streets named after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., according to East Carolina University cultural geographer Derek Alderman.
Most of those cities are in the South. In North Carolina, the cities with MLK streets include: Charlotte, Durham, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and smaller cities including Albermarle, New Bern and Thomasville.
A portion of Kivett Drive in High Point is dedicated to King with brown street signs that read, “Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Drive.”
That part of Kivett honors King, but we don’t go far enough to actually name a street after him.
The question of naming a High Point Street after King has been talked about for 15 years.
What street would we choose?
What about the businesses who would have to change their addresses?
What about the 66 percent of property owners who need to sign a petition?
Is this all that’s standing in the way?
The reason for naming a street after King moves beyond honoring his legacy. It’s beyond being politically correct.
For many, a King-named street shows that the community has a strong African-American presence. It shows the community’s progress since the civil rights movement. It shows that blacks have influence in the community.
Not having a street named after King reminds many that maybe that’s not the case in High Point.
Alderman wrote about this in his published paper, “Naming Streets for Martin Luther King Jr.,: No Easy Road.”
“King street-naming practices mark concerns for and debates about political meaning, power and resistance, historical representation, social justice public space and infrastructure access, urban diversity and community memory and identity. These debates extend beyond African-American communities to open up often long-standing American cultural, political, social and economic tensions.”
The Rev. Frank Thomas spoke to City Council at a recent meeting about naming a street after King. “Although I know it’s been discussed and debated for many years in the past, for me that means – why haven’t we done something?”
So, pick a street. Kivett and Green have been mentioned.
Get petitions signed.
And, city leaders, help make this happen.
Yes, to honor the legacy of a great American leader. And to show that we are a community where diversity is included and valued. Or at least getting closer to that.