Revitalizing MLK Streets to Better Honor Their Namesake

Across the U.S., hundreds of streets are named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unfortunately, many reflect the poverty and segregation that King fought to reverse. A non-profit is trying to transform them into sources of pride and inspiration.
January 20, 2014, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Associated Press writers Sophia Tareen and Christine Armario profile Beloved Streets of America, a St. Louis-based non-profit that's launched an effort to revitalize the 900 roadways across America named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as beacons of vibrancy, beauty, and prosperity. Unfortunately, many of these streets are beset by poverty, violence and lingering segregation, a situation the group finds is disrespectful to Dr. King's legacy. Beloved Streets is starting its efforts in St. Louis, by working to reclaim Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive with a new neighborhood park and an urban agriculture project.  

“Those street names are really powerful social indicators of how far we’ve come in really fulfilling the dream, and giving us an indication of where we need to do more work,” said Derek Alderman, a University of Tennessee geography professor who has explored street naming as a civil rights issue. “As much as it may sadden us, it demarcates and defines boundaries for civil rights activism for the future. You’ve got something that remembers the past that actually works, in its own tragic irony, to symbolize where the struggle still is.”

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Published on Sunday, January 19, 2014 in The Washington Post
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