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Florida town changes MLK street name
May 11, 2004 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Florida town changes MLK street name What's in a name, asked Shakespeare. Everything, it seems.
posted by Postroad (41 comments total)

 
One of those things where reasonable people could disagree, but lots of folks on at least one side aren't very reasonable.
posted by callmejay at 6:33 PM on May 11, 2004


Ben Youmans, who lives on Sixth Avenue, said he opposed renaming the street because of King's opposition to the Vietnam War.

That, and he put ideas in them black folks' heads.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:34 PM on May 11, 2004


gorram uppity negroes.

First our schools, now our streets? What next? interracial marriage?

</Ben Youman Mode>
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:39 PM on May 11, 2004


At the risk of being called a racist, I don't like it when they rename streets like that. The street between fifth and seventh street should be sixth street. I mean, not to take anything from Martin Luther King, but I'd be pissed if I had to change my return address from "123 6th St." to "123 Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Parkway."
posted by ColdChef at 6:47 PM on May 11, 2004


Another good point:

Instead of naming a road after MLK, which every other municipality from here to CA has done in order to show their deep commitment to symbolically showing their deep commitment to King, the town should fund the "Martin Luther King Peace & Justice Lobbyist". This lobbyist would work full-time in Raliegh & Washington D.C. to promote policy which springs directly from the philosophy of King. One major focus would be to bring the corporate welfare money back home where we can use it for good local projects - education, job creation, mass tranportation, etc.
posted by ColdChef at 6:50 PM on May 11, 2004


Chris Rock said it: “If a friend calls you on the telephone and says they’re lost on Martin Luther King Boulevard and they want to know what they should do, the best response is, ‘Run!”’
posted by 2sheets at 6:53 PM on May 11, 2004


"I don't care where you live in America, if you're on Martin Luther King Boulevard, there's some violence going on." - Chris Rock
posted by justgary at 6:55 PM on May 11, 2004


I'm too slow.
posted by justgary at 6:56 PM on May 11, 2004


At the risk of being called a racist, I don't like it when they rename streets like that.

But would you claim to be opposed because the honoree didn't approve of war?

I'm willing to bet that a few people opposed it on the grounds that it was a pain in the ass. I'd probably complain to my friends, too. However, if your chief concern is the extra effort, you're probably not going to drag your butt to a hearing to change it back. That's just more work after it was already renamed.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:57 PM on May 11, 2004


Yeah, does he also hate the other American civilians who ended up opposing the Vietnam war? You know, MOST of them?

If he's gonna code his racism, he needs better code than that.

(suggest: states rights. works well for every one else who needs to signal white voters without alarming everyone else.)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:09 PM on May 11, 2004


We used to have a Philip Livingston Blvd. now it's called Henry Johnson Blvd.

No two ways about it, it's a racial division. The colored folk just don't like living on whitey's street.
posted by page404 at 7:14 PM on May 11, 2004


I grew up very near Zephyrhills, and this doesn't surprise me one iota.
posted by bshort at 7:15 PM on May 11, 2004


I had Zephyrhills once, but a shot cleared it right up.
posted by ColdChef at 7:26 PM on May 11, 2004


The town should fund the "Martin Luther King Peace & Justice Lobbyist"

That's one of the worst fucking ideas I've ever heard.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:41 PM on May 11, 2004


gorram uppity negroes

as lyndon johnson pronounced it, that would be "nigrahs".
posted by quonsar at 8:21 PM on May 11, 2004


Two thoughts: first, did it impress anyone else as odd that the story made almost no mention of the ethnic makeup of the current residents? Would it matter if you put an MLK Blvd through an almost entirely white neighborhood?

Second, though this may sound petty, do you have any idea how expensive street signs are? I remember when a long stretch of road was going to be MLK'ed in California, until they were informed that is was going to cost at least ten thousand dollars per sign!
posted by kablam at 8:23 PM on May 11, 2004


my town, in which everything that isn't named after the founders of the most successful pyramid scheme ever (namely, van andel or de vos, founders of amway) is named after jerry ford or rosa parks, now wants to rename a major thouroughfare after MLK. enough.

oh, and kablam, i hear you:
our county administrators 2 years ago, out of the blue, decided to rename the kent county international airport (pretentious as hell) to the gerald r. ford international airport (pretentious AND dumb) at a cost of just over $250,000! for a name change! stationary, dozens of wall signs, road signs, even the stupid nametags employees wore. i'd like to take the quarter million out of thier hides, myself... so far, the MLK road name change is dead in the water, although allegations of racial predjudice are now being bandied about. [sigh]
posted by quonsar at 8:34 PM on May 11, 2004


they were informed that is was going to cost at least ten thousand dollars per sign!

(drops out of college, starts making street signs)


You have to be misremembering this. I could see pretty high costs for those major over-the-highway signs, but if you're talking regular street signs, no way. A quick Googling turns up $50 for your standard street sign replacement ($92 with a new post). Now, these $50 signs may not have said "Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Parkway," but still.
posted by rafter at 8:41 PM on May 11, 2004


"I don't care where you live in America, if you're on Martin Luther King Boulevard, there's some violence going on." - Chris Rock - justgary

You took the words right out of my mouth. ...and it's true where I live. Every other month a crack house is busted on MLK. But it IS turning around, though, slowly.
posted by tomplus2 at 9:00 PM on May 11, 2004


ten thousand dollars per sign!

Man, I am totally in the wrong business.
posted by majcher at 9:21 PM on May 11, 2004


Here in Eugene, we recently renamed Centennial Highway MLK.

Problem was, the highway runs straight into neighboring Springfield, where the city council elected not to change the name of the highway. Now, it has two names.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:34 PM on May 11, 2004


Maybe the US government is trying to discourage civil disobedience in the face of decreasing liberty.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 9:38 PM on May 11, 2004


When you care enough to show you don't care... send a Hallmark greeting.

Naming a street after MLK is true Hallmark sentimentality.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 PM on May 11, 2004


but I'd be pissed if I had to change my return address from "123 6th St." to "123 Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Parkway."

[hastily makes a note of Coldchef's address]

Heh heh. Sucker.
posted by Hildago at 9:46 PM on May 11, 2004


I don't think MLK would give a fucking shit about what streets were named after him and where. Arguing about the war in iraq makes more sense than this.

Subsequently:

Maybe the US government is trying to discourage civil disobedience in the face of decreasing liberty.

lol!!!!
posted by angry modem at 9:48 PM on May 11, 2004


Yeah, does he also hate the other American civilians who ended up opposing the Vietnam war? You know, MOST of them?

In his defense, we aren't seemingly naming every other street after "most" people who opposed the Vietnam war. Although that would be a good name. Most People Who Opposed the Vietnam War Parkway.

Here in Eugene, we recently renamed Centennial Highway MLK. Problem was, ... now, it has two names.

That's not really a problem. Most areas are covered with patchworks of names like that. Highway 99 through Seattle has at least six names, and a street near where I live goes from 34th, to 35th, to 36th before becoming an interstate on-ramp.
posted by kindall at 10:04 PM on May 11, 2004


America - where people argue more about the street names than they argue about what happens on the steets.
posted by pyramid termite at 10:39 PM on May 11, 2004


Why the hell would you care what your own address is? Spend a lot of time filling in forms with your own address by hand? Looking to save the power company money on ink?

And that MLK = crime joke was meant to be sad statement of affairs. People laughed because it's uncomfortable and true. The kind of comedy that made Chris Rock funny, back then.

Of course, he ain't done shit since then, but Eddie Murphy syndrome is rampant.
posted by dglynn at 1:14 AM on May 12, 2004


Not to derail, dglynn, but his subsuquent two HBO specials have been solid. The one that ran a couple of weeks ago is the stronger of the two.
posted by Optamystic at 1:34 AM on May 12, 2004


Spend a lot of time filling in forms with your own address by hand?
Forms? No. Return addresses on my outgoing mail? Yep.

Not to mention informing all my relatives, friends and businesses of the address change...
posted by mischief at 8:22 AM on May 12, 2004


And that MLK = crime joke was meant to be sad statement of affairs. People laughed because it's uncomfortable and true.

Don't worry, we got the joke.

Of course, he ain't done shit since then, but Eddie Murphy syndrome is rampant.

He's got 3 movies coming out in 2005 and just did another hbo special, which I found out about through a recent interview.

For someone not doing "shit" he's a pretty busy guy.
posted by justgary at 8:45 AM on May 12, 2004


I grew up very near Zephyrhills, and this doesn't surprise me one iota.

My ex-in-laws lived in Zephyrhills, and this doesn't surprise me one iota, either. It's an overwhelmingly white retiree/senior community where Walmart and bingo reign supreme.
posted by widdershins at 9:05 AM on May 12, 2004


huh. my grandpa's summer home is in zephyrhills, wonder what he thinks of this. he's not on 6th/MLK, though, he's on "elder lane" which strikes me as sort of funny for a community of retired people.

quonsar - i understand your pain, just an hour east of you here. lansing went through a change a while ago, big push from the hispanic community to recognize cesar chavez; they renamed grand ave. through downtown, and succeeded in pissing off everyone involved. the campaign to change it back was successful (the slogan "it was GRAND just the way it was!" was particularly effective). i think that chavez ave. lasted about a month or less.

martin luther king ave. through town was formerly logan, and some of the signs still say logan. i still think of it as either, interchangeably, which makes for some bad driving directions because i always forget what street name it actually has printed on the highway exit sign... funny because as far as i know the street hasn't been officially called logan in at least a decade or more, yet the signs still remain confusing in places.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:19 AM on May 12, 2004


In regards to the joke that MLK Avenues tend to be shitty places to live, the NYT article on the subject points to the fact that efforts to rename major thoroughfares or streets in (gasp!) white neighborhoods tend to get shot down early, so the only streets a municipality can manage to rename after MLK are in black neighborhoods, places where Chris Rock (and more than a few Mefites, apparently) feel free to malign as crime-ridden ghettos.

From the Times link:
Most of the streets are in the South, in places where the population is at least 30 percent black. Georgia, Dr. King's birthplace, has the most, Dr. Alderman said. Many run mostly through black neighborhoods, he said, often because efforts to name a central thoroughfare for Dr. King fail.

"The second choices are often not the most prominent, the most healthy streets," Dr. Alderman [a geography prof. who has studied the MLK renaming issue] said.

posted by hhc5 at 10:06 AM on May 12, 2004


Others said renaming a street after King could hurt the town's economy, as streets named after him elsewhere frequently run through poor neighborhoods.

That's using logic for ya.
posted by goethean at 10:14 AM on May 12, 2004


Martin Luther King may be controversial for more reasons that simply that he was African-American and opposed the Vietnam War. He was also a philanderer and plagiarist, and (my own objection) monumentalized all out of proportion, at the expense of not only other civil rights activists, but other African American cultural figures deeply worthy of honor. The words "Martin Luther King" have long since ceased to evoke the man, and now live only as shibboleth -- like the words "civil rights," "inner-city" "the community," "minority" -- even "African-American". I suppose this banality is the price we pay for racial peace.
posted by Faze at 10:31 AM on May 12, 2004


Perhaps Faze, but MLK evokes the movement, which is worthy of remberance and respect and honor.

Does it REALLY matter what flaws the man had considering he is the embodiment, for right or wrong, of one of the great accomplishments of our country?


(even if it's one we should have gotten right in the first place)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:08 AM on May 12, 2004


places where Chris Rock (and more than a few Mefites, apparently) feel free to malign as crime-ridden ghettos.

Malign? No. It's the truth. Are there reasons behind the truth? You betcha.

But usually comdians don't go into deep analysis, cus, you know, they're comedians.
posted by justgary at 12:52 PM on May 12, 2004


In Berkeley, Martin Luther King Blvd. runs through some racially integrated areas, but once it gets to the "hills" (ritzier and whiter neighborhoods), the boulevard suddenly becomes the Alameda. Of course, that's another wrinkle you have in California. People love to live on streets with Spanish names, even if they wouldn't be caught dead living next to anybody with a Hispanic surname.
posted by jonp72 at 1:23 PM on May 12, 2004


As the NYT link also points out, the area, if not the city, already has a street named after the man. Doesn't seem to have done them much good, or ill.

Most of the roughly 100 people who signed Mrs. Dobson's petition requesting the name change are black. Many, like her, live near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue on the other side of the train tracks, outside the city limits. But most residents of the renamed street are white.
posted by haqspan at 1:31 PM on May 12, 2004


This is sort of a Florida thing. Cape Canaveral, of the rocket launches, was renamed Cape Kennedy after the assassination. Later, when the flap about JFK had died down a bit, the good FL folk changed the name right back to Canaveral, which it remains today. (It's still the Kennedy Space Flight Center on the cape.)
posted by jfuller at 2:38 PM on May 12, 2004


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