Martin Luther King Boulevard

In addition to a number of other good ideas on the Chapel Hill Town Council's agenda, I'm told they will hear a proposal tonight to rename Airport Road to Martin Luther King Boulevard. When I was first exposed to this idea (at a candidate forum last fall), I was taken aback. I've known that road for a long time by only one name.

But actually, it makes a lot more sense to me than naming the road after an aiport that hardly anyone uses, and most people expect to be closed within a few years. And It's especially appropriate that the street that will be the future grand entrance to Carolina North should be named after such a great American. I hope it will serve as a daily reminder to all of us to do whatever we can to live up to the moral challenges of our times (of which there are many).

It's a great way to commemorate the week of his birthday and I will go down to see the Town Council and tell them so. See y'all at the March on MLK Day!


1) I'm Black. I'm 400 years removed from Africa and the matter of my skin color only matters when someone decides that it does.

2) No, not really. I don't know where MLK Street is in CH and I honestly don't care (unless I have to get somewhere). What *I* find offensive is the notion that objects will make a difference in how people remember a person. Again, driving down MLK Boulevard doesn't make me remember how lucky I am to be able to ride in the front of the bus. And while the initial exhiliration of driving down Airport-turned-MLK St. may make people recall who he was and what he did (ONLY because they'll be remembering this very debate!), in a few years, even a few months, no one will give a crap.

3) "Some folks don't want it changed, and are suddenly now full of good ideas on how to honor civil rights activists, where it hadn't really been important to them before" wasn't a very creative rebuttle. a) We're having a conversation ON THE SUBJECT of how to honor civil rights activists, so of course there will be other ideas on how it could be done, and b) Whoever proposed this change thinks that they're "now full of good ideas on how to honor civil rights activists." I think it's funny how some people imagine that you can't honor someone/something unless you do it every waking hour or without impetus.

And of course naming things after people doesn't mean I don't love or care about them or their ideals. Namesakes are just symbolic value - for the sake of naming. It's The People who give the symbolic value, therefore The People are the ones with the power and who make King's dream meaningful. A street sign alone can't do that.

But Prinny, on 3a, the debate is only hapenning because the local NAACP raised the issue. Of the folks now proposing alternatives, I have never seen them seek ways to honor civil rights activists in the past. (It's like the neighbors who suddendly support affordable housing, but not in their neighborhood, as soon as it's proposed.)

On 3b, "whoever proposed the change" is the Chapel Hill- Carrboro chapter of the NAACP. Perhaps you have heard of this organization? Locally, they have been creating positive social change for many decades.

Did you know that the Town of Chapel Hill was the first municipality in the nation to give it's employees a paid day off to honor Dr. King's birthday? That was oevr 20 years ago, now these same leaders who have done SO MUCH good work for our community have brought forth what the Chapel Hill News called a "modest proposal" to re-name Airport Road. I'm embarrassed that there is even a debate over this. Hopefully it will end tonight (but I'm skeptical).

Well Ruby, the debate didn't end tonight. Instead, the town council supported a resolution put forth by the Mayor to form a committee to investigate the matter. Two members of the naming committee, who had approved the name change, were among the supporters of the resolution. Regardless of Chapel Hill's reputation as a liberal haven, this is highly reminiscent of the typical response of North Carolina cities to civil rights initiatives. In 'Civil Rights and Civilities', William Chafe shows how, rather than reacting to civil rights demonstrators with pit bulls and fire bombs, the North Carolina white elite typically declared that they very much wanted progress on this issue, that they just wanted to do so in a way that would not be divisive and would have the full backing of the community... They succeeded in slowing integration in NC to a rate behind that of Alabama.

Many people spoke at the meeting (I was about fifteen minutes late, although I doubt I missed anything dramatically different). All black people who spoke supported the name change. Several of the African American speakers mentioned their eagerness to move past this issue and deal with other urgent questions, such as educational matters and questions around public workers at the University and the Hospital. All but three white people who spoke opposed it. One who supported it brought up that the town of Chapel Hill during the civil rights era was going to pass a public accomodations law, but instead referred it to a committee to further explore, and it never happened (federal law eventually superceded local on this issue). It did not appear that many members of the white progressive community were in attendance. Many of the white people opposed to the name change insisted that this was not a racial issue. Frequently they refered to themselves as property or business owners on Airport Road. They often mentioned the apparently egregious costs to themselves (and the town) that changing the name of the road would involve. None mentioned being at all uneasy about having an African American name linked to their business or property, so I'm sure that was not an issue (sarcasm). Nearly all the white people mentioned that they were eager to honor MLK jr. None mentioned any of the other issues brought up by African American speakers. One opposed presented a petition with about 800 signatories from Airport Road residents, business owners, Chapel Hill residents, Durham, Carrboro and Pittsboro and 'other' residents opposed to the name change (why this is a burning issue for Pittsboro et al residents was not made clear). For the most part the audience was respectful of whoever was speaking. In the debate among the council about the Mayor's resolution, nearly all those opposed to it said they believed the resolution was a defacto 'no' vote to the name change. Supporters compared this to the Apple Chill issue, and said the committee would find a way to listen and respect all opinions on the matter. I think it is fair to say that most of the supporters of the name change saw last night's action as a defeat, although not necessarilly the last word on the subject.

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.

Frederick Douglass

FYI Steve, see for a more detailed description of what went down last night.

I totally agree with your analysis, and am extremely disappointed to see Council members reversing their stated support for the idea in the face of the vocal, all-white opposition. Not only did members of the naming committee change their votes (Edith Wiggins and Jim Ward). Jim Ward and Kevin Foy told the NAACP at a candidate forum last fall that they would support this. So now all of these Council members have demonstrated to the community how reliable their word is.

Oh and by the way, I don't think this is the first time (or the last) that the Mayor has brought forward a proposal at the last minutes with absolutely no public review and jammed it through the meeting. And he still doesn't understand Robert's Rules of Order - and he's a lawyer! I am increasingly concerned about the direction (or lack thereof) of his leadership.

I have a question for many posters on this board, and I am asking in a genuine spirit of trying to understand something that I don't currently understand. Can you tell me how an opponent of re-naming Airport Road could present his case in such a fashion that it would satisfy you that his opposition ISN"T racially motivated? Apparently what you have seen and heard so far meets some criteria for you that the underlying reason is racial, so it must be that there is some way that a person could oppose this renaming that would meet some standard of being not racial.

Many of the opponents have mentioned naming a new school after MLK, naming a library after MLK, naming a downtown square after MLK, so I don't know how you can say that they are racist---they are quite willing to honor Dr. King's legacy with a major, prominent lasting monument. I am really serious about this question--how does a person's support to name a school, library, or town square after MLK, but opposition to renaming a road after MLK support a charge that this person is really a racist? Is it because it isn't happening RIGHT NOW, is it because it doesn't involve inconveniencing someone, is it because a person HAS to support 100% whatever the NAACP proposes? I really do want to understand this.

In my mind, it's because none of these people were asking for schools, libraries, etc to be named after the man a year ago. It's just like the neighbors who are suddenly in favor of affordable housing, but not in their neighborhood. It's a diversionary tactic.

I can't tell you what's in their hearts, but as many speakers said last night ( ), this *IS* about race. White folks can say it's not, but it's not theirs to define.

Perhaps the "other options" would have seemed more sincere had they not come so late in the process, which started last fall during the election and was covered in the press even then.

These wonderful "other options" are far into the future naming things that do not yet exist and that may never. This town has had a very sad, but well remembered, history of talking racial issues into silence as Fred Battle, Dan Coleman and Yonni Chapman have pointed out.

If you, and others, love King so much, we can have the road AND a room in the Library AND a School AND a Square. But the NAACP was only asking for a road which seemed a modest request in line with a national movement.

Franklin Street is already the Jefferson Davis Highway. I challenge you to have that removed.

To cantaloupe,

The Town Council ignores the cost of its lot of actions and goes forward. The NAACP did not start the divisiveness.The first mention of racism came from a white opponent of the name changing. It already existed. The discussion brought Chapel Hill's true flavor to the surface. It is not the Southern part of heaven.

The School Board controls naming of schools. It has named two schools after prominent black educators in the community, McDougle and Smith Middle Schools. Therefore, the School Board on the issue of naming has done a better job than the Town at this point.

The Town of Chapel Hill controls the naming of its streets. The Board could have chosen to make a statement. You are judged by what you do not by what you say at a forum. The community has had six months to discuss this issue. If the proposal had been to name the street Dean Smith Boulevard, would the same individuals have spoken out against the name change. To name a street after an individual who died so that all people could be treated fairly means the community holds those values. If you do not hold those values say so.

Anyone could have brought a petition to rename any building they wanted to after Martin Luther King before the NAACP brought the renaming of Airport Road. Where where the proponents before this proposal came before the counsel?

I for one JUST MOVED HERE. I couldn't possibly have given an opinion last year because I wasn't here. I can speak the same of some other people I know who are new that I've seen posting ideas on this forum and in town meetings.

Dr. King deserves better than a piece of asphault, marked by seam lines, pot holes, and bird crap. At least the other street named after him offers low income housing which allows people to HAVE HOUSES who wouldn't otherwise do so. In my opinion, that's an awsome glory to his name.

I really can get behind a move to rename Bolin Creek. Something that supports life and allows people the ability to experience freedom from their daily drudgery of traffic and work is much more of a testiment to King's legacy than erecting a few street signs.

I appreciate what the NAACP is after, but I point out to you that /they/ didn't propose their ideas back whenever it is that you have set the non-racist timeline to be, either. It seems a horrible double standard to be held to.

And one really nice thing about this website is that you don't know the races of those posting. How many african americans have you insulted (Prinny being one of them) by assuming that all opposers are the "white racists"?

Maybe there is a black majority who wants to see King's name given honor, but not at the expense of a Chapel Hill landmark (let's face it, there /is/ and airport, at the proposed name change time there will /still be an airport/). Yes the money issue is an issue, but the people I've spoken to living up and down the road find it upsetting that this is an all-or-nothing point.

Can't we compromise?

And for the record - I'm german.

Ruby correctly makes the point, "this *IS* about race. White folks can say it's not, but it's not theirs to define."

If you go to the link below, you can listen to my WCHL commentary from May 6th:

I guess I'm surprised that there are people who are surprised.

I appreciate the comments so far and find some of them helpful in trying to understand this issue. I agree that it took the NAACP requesting this change for it to be discussed and I commend them for making their desires known and advocating for what they believe is right. All change starts with someone being the first to put an idea forward.

OK, so the idea has been put forward that we as a town need to put actions behind our words and do a substantive tribute to MLK. Why can't we have a debate about what that tribute should be, what it should look like? How many other things have been proposed in this town that ended up exactly as they were initially proposed? Sometimes the discussion around a proposal winds up making it BETTER than it was initially. I don't know what the best outcome is here, but I don't see any harm in listening to other people's opinions with some respect. That includes strong opinions on both sides of the table.

The town council should treat this proposal the same as any other--to invite public comment, follow the same process they do for anything else, and then make their decision. We are intelligent enough as a community to listen to divergent views and disagree respectfully. The NAACP has given a very solid proposal about what they think a fitting tribute to MLK is----renaming Airport Road. Their reasoning is sound, logical, and deserves a serious hearing. The next steps include other people's ideas about why they like that proposal, why they don't, and/or what they think might be even better than the initial proposal. Then the Town Council takes that information and makes the decision it deems best. Surely we can do this without accusing everyone who disagrees with our opinion of some kind of racism, prejudice, black entitlement, white supremacy, or whatever else "ism."

The real reason opponents do not want the name change is because they believe that the address itself will have people believe that their business is in a poor or minority neighborhood.

S. Tubman

"The town council should treat this proposal the same as any other--to invite public comment, follow the same process they do for anything else, and then make their decision. We are intelligent enough as a community to listen to divergent views and disagree respectfully. The NAACP has given a very solid proposal about what they think a fitting tribute to MLK is----renaming Airport Road. Their reasoning is sound, logical, and deserves a serious hearing. The next steps include other people's ideas about why they like that proposal, why they don't, and/or what they think might be even better than the initial proposal."

I thought this was the procedure in fact followed at three hearings already. The town council had heard a lot already, could've debated among themselves, and voted. Instead, they decided to set up a committee to override their own committee which had already examined the issue...

I think at this point we know the score. Civic-minded African Americans--the sort who show up at public meetings--overwhelmingly support the proposal (as for the non-civic minded, it's always hard to gauge opinion). The most vocal, civic-minded property and business owners along airport road (and, as we saw last night, they like to refer to themselves as property and business owners) do not like the proposal. Apparently most white progressives in town don't care about this issue or, more accurately, didn't care enough to make their views heard.

I don't necessarilly believe that everyone opposed to the proposal is a racist in the sense of being a member of the Klan or whatever. But I think there were private racial discussions that were carefully avoided in public, along the lines of 'my property is going to have a Martin Luther King blvd address??!! What is THAT going to do to its value?'

Prediction: after twisting the arms of NAACP members for a few sessions, the committee will propose something like MLK jr Memorial Highway/Airport Rd. The proposal will pass. Airport road property owners/business people will do everything they can to avoid acknowledging the new addition to the name. The MLK part will be on street signs, but in a couple of years no one will remember why everyone still calls it airport road. And thus African Americans will be reminded anew that in Chapel Hill, their opinions don't count for much. I hope the town will prove me wrong.

Did the Town follow due process in this debate, by notifying residents and businesses potentially affected by the change and allowing the appropriate period for public comment? It was my understanding that the town did not follow its own rules or the law for this type of process and THAT was what many of the people were upset about. Does anyone know?

When you start trying to understand why the accusation of racism is being made about this process, you need to look at everything that has gone on this community for the past several years. The racial achievement gap has been an unaddressed issue in the schools for over 20 years, but heated up again with NCLB. Students have moved into traditionally black neighborhoods, sucking up the affordable housing. The growth in the Hispanic population has created competition for jobs. There's the EEO issues in Public Works and at the university. There's been an overall movement in CH towards more conservative politics. Then we just had to live through the Reagan funeral--a glowing memorial to an individual who did nothing positive for race relations in this country. There's a cumulative effect and the mayor's cop out last night was just icing on the cake, IMHO.

After renaming the road, let's ban students. hispanics, and conservatives (alive or dead) while we're at it. That should solve all the african american problems.

Addled hysteria about Lord knows what. Bravo. You're a credit to conservatives everywhere.

In your haste, you forogt to include morons, alive or comatose.

As Mildred Council pointed out last night, the Civil Rights Movement didn't take place in a building or in a park or among statues, the struggle took place in the STREET.

That is why a ribbon of asphalt, a major drive/walk/march through town, is the most appropriate memorial to Dr. King.

And the German infamousJ, be aware that there is public housing on the future MLK Blvd as well as on the present token King Street. In fact there is a diversity of housing and of buildings there.

Nice, Terri.

Renaming the road will be a feel good symbol, but after we get past this "they've done it to us again" self-pitying hysteria, I hope the energy of the NAACP and it's supporters is spent on doing something to enhance education and training and provide mentors and good role models, so today's african american youth can compete effectively against hispanics, start displacing students from their neighborhoods, and be knowledgeable and articulate enough to challenge offending conservative ideas a bit better than you just did.

The renaming will not be unimportant, but won't help one bit to solve the issues you laid out.

Actions not words, that was morbidly amusing.

Sojourner Tubman, a fan of Chris Rock, I see... I'd be worried about the assumption made by someone seeing my address was MLK Blvd, too. I'm a business-minded individual and indeed, presentation is half the battle. However, it's not *their* fault MLK roads are typically unkempt and people assume they're dumps. Sure, hopefully, if Airport is renamed, it will remain as nice as it is for decades to come, but that doesn't change the fact that MLK's name is more than often dirtied by pollution.

"the debate is only hapenning because the local NAACP raised the issue."

Yes, like they randomly raised the issue of South Carolina flying the Confederate flag. Granted, they shouldn't have been flying the flag of a dead enemy nation, but in the end, again, what impact has it had?

"Of the folks now proposing alternatives, I have never seen them seek ways to honor civil rights activists in the past. (It's like the neighbors who suddendly support affordable housing, but not in their neighborhood, as soon as it's proposed.)"

But that's because some people who don't even live in their neighborhood decided that they wanted to put the affordable housing in that neighborhood. Would be different if Airport Rd had scores of housing right on it, but businesses seem to outnumber the houses as far as I can tell.

I think the majority should rule - because it's the majority who are affected. I'm sure most of you would agree with that basic democratic principle... if you weren't so hellbent on calling me racist. Naturally, people only support ideals like the "majority" when they're a part of it, when it suits them. Must be tough living a double standard.

"this *IS* about race. White folks can say it's not, but it's not theirs to define"

Again, with the convenient double standards. I suppose the White people who agree with this statement are also the same people who stupidly beg for forgiveness on from Black people on Oprah because their great-great-grand-cousin York owned a plantation in Mississippi. My advice to them would be to get some self-respect with a dash of common sense and move on with their lives. It's not like Black people aren't racist themselves. Acknowledging that something as shallow as skin color even has a bearing on your daily life is succumbing to racism.

The idea of race is the one thing that if you ignore it, it WILL go away. No. REALLY.

" Civic-minded African Americans--the sort who show up at public meetings--overwhelmingly support the proposal (as for the non-civic minded, it's always hard to gauge opinion)."

Along the lines of Ruby's thought, were those civic-minded Black people there BEFORE the NAACP decided to bake the bread? Or are they just looking to eat when it's done?

"The most vocal, civic-minded property and business owners along airport road (and, as we saw last night, they like to refer to themselves as property and business owners) do not like the proposal."

What do you mean "they like to refer to themselves as"? If they are, they are. Goshdarnit, people... Leave the judgemental attitudes at the door.

" Apparently most white progressives in town don't care about this issue or, more accurately, didn't care enough to make their views heard."

Assuming naming asphalt after Dr. King is sooo progressive... Sounds like following the fateful, token footsteps of every other city in America to me.

And Mr. Doody (*pauses to chuckle*), I see your point about change taking place on the streets. By far, it's the most meaningful argument I've heard for it. Still, he didn't do all that work for token gestures like renaming streets, and I doubt he'd care for it. His message was one that isn't palpable and I don't think we should pretend that erecting some street signs will "show the African-American community that we belong". Pardon my computer lingo but WTF was that lady talkin about?

PS: "I doubt he'd care for it" - I can say this because I'm Black and automatically know how other Black people think and feel. White persons cannot do that. I can also judge other races because my people have been downtrodden for so long. So THERE!

[/dripping sarcasm]

Actually "Actions..," your list of what the NAACP should be doing is a pretty accurate description of what they've been up to for at least the last several years that I've been a member. Where you been?

Naming a street in every city is not trite; it is a movement. In some ways, it is a countermovement to the Jefferson Davis Highways that are all across the nation including Chapel Hill's Franklin Street and once our Columbia Street. But it is also particularly appropriate in towns and cities that King visited including Chapel Hill where he was not allowed to be served by local businesses nor stay in local hotels.

Yes *only* naming a street would be trite. The NAACP is not only doing that -- locally or nationally. You might visit with them some time.

No, I might not. I'm not interested in the NAACP. Joined years ago and got tired of the politics and meaningless dribble. Didn't make me feel like I was any more Black and Proud than I was when I popped out of mah mom's womb. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not even Black. I'm Human.

Additionally, I didn't say naming streets is *all* the NAACP is doing.

Citizens of Chapel Hill: Is there any realistic solution to this issue that will placate everyone? The powers that be (certain council members) can't come to a decision without yet another "committee" to discuss and investigate this issue (again)...Folks are now labeled as racists if they offer up other suggestions...The town is now more racially divided than in the 50's and 60's (according to Mr. Battle's quote in the N&O)?

I swear this town needs an enema!

I remember reading someone's comment on either this thread or a similar one that "the costs (printing/advertising/etc.) are a small price to pay to honour this great man" (that is not the exact quote). If these costs are a small price to pay...then let's ALL pay. Now I just know I am gonna get lanced over this one but...If there is opposition because of anticipated expenses as a result of renaming, then why not we as a community make an effort to incur part of the these costs and take that issue off the table? Dr. King is honoured, we ALL take the financial responsibility (as well as the social responsibility).

Other than that, I don't buy the weak "preserve the historic value" part. Then again I am a "damned yankee, northerner, transplant, newcomer" who doesn't support the "it's our heritage/history" confederate flag flying crowd either, so what do I know.

For the record (since race is the issue) I'll add that I am a white female, moderate-conservative, hard core pro-choice, work-at-home mother, who lives off of Airport Road (in a subdivision) and who thinks renaming Airport Road after Dr. King is a fine idea (and the library or park too).

Does that make me "mixed use"?

I'm sure this suggestion has been posed and shot down, but I'd like to hear a good reason why, in a compromising spirit, we can't rename N. Columbia St. I mean, the town hall is on that street, after all.

This is, of course, assuming that Airport Rd renaming is out of the question.

But why? Wouldn't that make a good compromise? The business owners would be happy. MLK's name would be on a prominant street because of the town hall and fire station (and yes, there is low income housing on that street too) so that should placate those who think we've shoved him into a corner. And the airport will still be remembered, which placates history buffs like myself. I'm sure the homeowners along that road would be upset, but they don't have to redo stationary or whatever it was that caused business community objections. I mean, after all, Chapel Hill would still be spending an estimated $13,000 in street signs no matter what the street.

PS: Trish, the airport has nothing to do with the confederate flag. Just drive down Airport Blvd (or alternatley Estes Dr. Ext) and you'll actually SEE the airport for which the road is named. It is home to UNC's skydiving club and many people who like to fly private aircraft.

Infamous J???

First: I in NO way associate the airport with the confederate flag! What I meant was I don't buy the historic attachments some may have to that name...MUCH LIKE those who want to FLY the confederate flag because it is SUPPOSEDLY a part of their history or heritage...I was making a comparison...

Second: I LIVE OFF OF AIRPORT ROAD and drive up and down it 4 times a day. Also, I know exactly where the airport is because I have landed there with individuals who own/fly private aircraft.

Third: I can understand and appreciate the skydiving club members and the aircraft owners wanting keep the airport to land at. But are they so seriously attached to the name of the road it's on?

Prinny--People are a lot of things--citizens, students, parents, property owners, etc. Which roles we choose to emphasize in public debate is our own decision. The white people who denounced the road change mostly referred to themselves as property owners--not citizens, not people concerned with civil rights, etc. I was just noting this.

By 'progressives' I meant people who take liberal and left positions on issues like the environment, taxes, foreign policy etc. I think this is a widespread usage. I do not know why so few white progressives showed up at the town hall meeting. I was just noting that they did not. Perhaps they do not support the name change. Perhaps they are indifferent to issues raised by the NAACP, rather than white dominated organizations.

Last night, on 'As it happened', the host spoke to someone in Little Rock, in a vain effort to determine what Clinton meant when, a couple of days ago, he said 'I feel like a pickle stepping into history'. They called someone on William Jefferson Clinton Blvd, a business owner (a pub). All I could think of was 'how did they EVER survive having the name of their street changed'.

Ruby--how about starting a cyber-petition of Chapel Hill residents who support the name change?

I assume the impetus behind renaming Airport Road to MLK Road is to honor the contributions of African Americans to our community and nation. Thats certainly a cause worth promoting.

Why don't we bring all of this home? Why don't we rename Airport Road after someone who has been far more influential on our local community? Why not rename Airport Road after one of our most beloved African American Mayors, Representatives, and citizens of our time?

How about Howard Lee Boulevard?

That is hysterical.

Frankly I'd rather see a Malcom Xpressway.

Or a John Hope Franklin Street.

"People are a lot of things--citizens, students, parents, property owners, etc. Which roles we choose to emphasize in public debate is our own decision."

Yes, it certainly is. The White people IDed themselves as owners of some sort and the Black people said they were Black. Apparently, and I didn't know this, being Black is more meaningful, more important than owning your own piece of land (which, back in the day, used to really mean something - still does to the old folks in my straight up country family), building your income, making it in the business world, wistfully remembering that cute little airport that used to be there... Maybe this is me thinking wishfully, but I thought Dr. King wanted us to forget about skin color and concentrate on matters of more importance.

Frankly, I'm tried of the "I'm Black, so you owe me something" mentality. I don't want a piece of the American Pie - I'll make my own, thankyouverymuch.There is no way in I'm going to go thru my life demanding that everyone bow to my will because I'm Black. I don't expect my non-Black friends and family to do it, and I sure won't have Chapel Hill to do it and feel good about itself.

The NAACP should be focussing on making sure there is equality, not reverse racism. That's sick and I'm embarassed that the term even exists.

Princess Smith, don't you live in Durham?

Has anyone proposed renaming the street in question as "Philandering, boozehound, plagiarist 'I stole the dream speech' Street?" If we are really keen on preserving the memory of this leader, perhaps this represents a reasonable compromise?

Alternately, white residents may opt for a tactic in favor among African-Americans in New York: object on the basis of race.


PAL Center’s Name Opens Racial Divide

Kerry Burke, New York Daily News, Jun. 13

The decision to name a new Police Athletic League center in South Jamaica, Queens, after a certain slain cop has stirred anger and resentment in the community.

The Edward Byrne Center does not yet bear the fallen officer’s name, though the dedication ceremony took place a month ago. And if a group of community leaders and residents have their way, it never will.

The reason? Edward Byrne was white.

“The center is in the middle of an African-American community,” said the Rev. Charles Norris of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church. “It should be named for a slain African-American law enforcement officer.”

Who the frell is Princess Smith?

My mistake. Princess Small.

When I first head about this proposal, i thought, why not? It certainly wouldnt bother me much, perhaps a little hassle in remembering streetnames, but really, no big deal so why not go through with it?

Then I tokkmy car to be fixed at a garage on airport road. I got into a conversation with the owner of that garage. Now wether or not this man was a raging biggot, I cant say for sure, but he seemed like a decent enough man. He brought up a very interesting pt, which although it is already discussed here, I had not thought about. The cost to local business owners to change the name of the road is ridiculous. Fo rhis shop alone, he quoted 17000 dollars. Thats nothing to laugh at.

When the local business owners brought up this point, the NAACP said something to the effect of "its a small price to pay, compared to what MLK paid" But if money shouldnt be an issue, then hwy doesnt the NAACP or the city absorb the cost to these business owners?? They dont mind the name change or the symbolism involved. Its about money, and with the economy in the state that it is in, who can blame them?

Besides, who is it who decided that THESE business owners, the ones on Airport Rd. should be forced to absorb the cost? Why not franklin st. or rosemary st. or some other street. In reality it just isnt fair, why inact an injustice (though a much smaller one than slavery or racism) in order to honor a man who spent his life fighting injustices?

What on earth adds up to $17,000? Don't people know the Post Office provides free change of address services? And for that matter what do you think they will do with mail addressed to Airport Road after the name changes in May of 2005? I bet you they will deliver it to the same damn place they've been delivering it for years.

Beth and Ruby,

Certainly there will be costs, but Council members who support the change have mentioned at EVERY public hearing that there will be a built in delay between the time the change is authorized and the time it goes into effect to allow businesses to phase in their address change. We received lists of costs from many businesses. The largest line items were:

1) The cost to produce cards, buy envelopes and pay for first class postage to send to every client and correspondent a notice of the address change, as well as estimates of labor costs to stamp and stuff envelopes (my memory is that this line item ranged from 3 to 6K, more for a few), and

2) the cost of lost business because customers won't know where the business is located. For some, this line item was as high as 10K. There was no indication regarding how this amount was determined.

(I'm just the messenger, please don't attack me here)

I have been very frustrated with some of the repeated concerns about stationary, business cards, invoices, etc. I would imagine a year would be sufficient to reduce stocks of these items. I'll leave criticism of the other cost to you gentle readers.

A year ago, my office moved into a new building across the street. We didn't have the luxury of phasing out a lot of our paper items and it was costly to change. We generally order paper products 2-3 times a year. We realize that it doesn't make much sense to plow too much money into these kinds of items at one time since it impacts cash flow. We would have been able to make the transition in 6 months.

"Delay, delay and hope it goes away!" This might have been the mantra of Foy, Wiggins, Verkerk, Harrison and Ward on last Monday night. No one there on either side was fooled by the lack of leadership shown or the disingenuous "We love Dr. King, but..." line mouthed there. We've all been brushed off by false loves using a similar line and we recognise it too well.

At least one editorial writer has a clue. The Tar Heel has your number:

Overdue raspberries to you from the Chapel Hill News:

"Raspberries to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce for its difficulty in taking a position on the Airport Road renaming, an issue that has become further protracted since a council decision Monday to turn the debate over to yet another committee.

The chamber adopted an official position supporting “naming a public facility after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” It calls for public discussion to determine the appropriate facility, then says, “If no other options arise, the board supports renaming Airport Road for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” In other words, name the road for King only as a last resort.

The chamber should be either “fer it or agin’ it.” Straddling the fence appeases neither side and offends both."

Pardon me. I have to go change my stationary. With Word it takes about 2 minutes of my time or $17,000.00. Hope that makes up for over 400 years of enslavement and domination.



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