Friday, March 16, 2012

Finally, Recognition!

There are many travesties in the long storied history of our country. With that said, I recently became aware of what I think is one of the worst indignities.  Well, at least in modern times. It’s been forty-four years since civil rights leader, icon, and dare I say martyr Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

There are streets named in his honor in every city across the country but in the cities where “The King” was murdered happens to be the last place to honor him with a street name. Dr. King gave so much to invoke change in a system that was nothing more than apartheid. Yet, nearly half a century later, the city of Memphis will finally rename the one-mile stretch of Linden Avenue to Dr. M.L. King Jr. on the anniversary, April 4, of his brutal murder.

This prestigious honor has even taken place in foreign countries like Italy, who honored King by renaming streets after him in no less than 10 cities. According to, as of two years ago, there are 893 places that have roadways memorializing King in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Yet not even in the entire state of Tennessee, much less in the city where King was brutally murdered, is there one street dedicated to his memory. Shocking isn’t it!!!

Journalist Jonathan Trilove in his book “Black America’s Main Streets” talks about how Dr. Martin Luther King streets serve as points of pride and struggle, yet finding the most appropriate thoroughfare is oftentimes accompanied by the difficulty of convincing Whites that King’s impact and legacy is an inspirational one that provided a coalition of conscience all across the board. Former Memphis City Councilman Berlin Boyd, who helped lead the street-naming effort in Memphis said, “We never wanted to address losing Dr. King’s life here”.

Commemorative movements are usually spearheaded by Blacks and the renaming of streets has oftentimes been a controversial process that has been met with significant public opposition. The inscription of King’s legacy on to streets and the controversy that has surrounded it on numerous occasions has led to the placement of his name on minor streets or portions of roadways that are primarily populated by Blacks.

Memphis has chosen the very busy downtown Linden Avenue, home of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, for the renaming because King marched there in support of sanitation workers. “He marched along this street; we wanted something that had a real nexus to this city,” said Mayor A.C. Wharton.

With there being a monument and a national holiday, it is about time Memphis has done the right thing. And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…

"Just a Season"
Legacy – A New Season is Coming!

Listen to the author's interview!

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