Racial & Economic Justice

$15,000 - for what?

A $15K road to order, not justice

Chapel Hill Herald
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page 2

So, was it worth it, the $15,000 Chapel Hill just spent for two days of facilitated conversation on the renaming of Airport Road for Martin Luther King Jr.?

According to one headline, the meetings did "yield understanding." One renaming opponent, Steve Largent, said, "I think I'm being heard." Town Councilwoman Sally Greene said, "I was proud to be a part of it." Surely the committee members are to be commended for their efforts and for their willingness to grapple with a racially charged issue.

But this whole undertaking still seems to have missed the point. After all, Mayor Kevin Foy and Councilwoman Edith Wiggins did not approach their colleagues back in June to propose spending thousands of dollars so a select group of 20 Chapel Hillians could better understand racism.

No, the goal was to help with the decision on the road renaming, to obtain "recommendations for appropriate memorials to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

Let's Do the Right Thing

Newspaper reports of last week's intensive two-day meeting of the town-appointed committee discussing the renaming of Airport Road to Martin Luther King Boulevard offered few suprises. A majority of the committee supported the renaming in the first place, and three members with businesses on future MLK Blvd are opposed, but all agreed to enter into the process with an open mind.

Can We End Homelessness?

Kudos to Sally Greene for bringing to Chapel Hill's attention to national efforts to end homelessness. And also to Kevin Foy and the rest of the Council for responding with a community roundtable scheduled for Thursday, November 18. Details can be found in today's Chapel Hill Herald or on the town web site.

The Carrboro Aldermen have declined to participate because of the choice of a weekday for the meeting. It is indeed bad planning to hold such an event when the working homeless themselves can not attend. (This is particularly egregious coming right on top of Chapel Hill's holding the Airport Road Renaming committee meeting all day on a Friday.)

Here's what I wrote on ending homelessness in the August 28 Herald:

Can you say 'boondoggle?'

I was baffled last week when the Town Council debated putting 59 people on a committee to decide whether to rename Airport Road. As if the whole committee thing hadn't slowed down Martin Luther King Blvd enough, appointing five dozen people would be sure to put the kibosh on it. Well it seems they are going to stick with the original plan to have just 20 members, but the mayor is still trying to turn this into the Chapel Hill Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"The charge of the committee is challenging," he said. "The immediate issues and underlying issues that inevitably must be discussed are difficult to discuss in an open, honest, civil and constructive manner."- Chapel Hill Herald, 9/12/04

Good luck!

MLK Blvd Committee: Foy Shocks Sinreich

I assume that everyone knows that, back in June, the Town Council created a discussion committee rather than act on the proposed renaming of Airport Road to Martin Luther King Jr Blvd (by a 5-4 vote orchestrated by Mayor Foy along with Council-members Verkerk and Wiggins).

From today's Chapel Hill News:

"I found the whole thing really embarrassing," Sinreich said. "I was shocked the council was not able to take what I see as a really big step to affirm the civil rights movement. There are real, significant changes that need to be made. This isn't one. This is a token gesture that says, 'Thanks for all you've done and sorry you've been treated like crap.'"

The News' lengthy article only touched on the ongoing racial problems in Chapel Hill. Lots of good quotes but Ruby really nailed it.



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