[Marxism] Racial Economics of Renaming Streets for Martin Luther King, Jr.
furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Mon May 10 10:12:11 MDT 2004
The City Council of Zephyrhills, Florida renamed a street to honor
Martin Luther King, Jr. on October 26, 2003, but it reversed the
decision and removed his name on April 26, 2004, caving in to white
protests. The Council earned a white supremacist website's praise.
White protestors argued that "they did not want the bother of
changing their addresses" and "[a] business owner told local
newspapers that <em>property values</em> would fall, saying streets
named after Dr. King were <em>a guarantee of economic blight</em>"
(Abby Goodnough, "Honor for Dr. King Splits Florida City, and Faces
Reversal," <em>New York Times,</em> <a
2004</a>). This is a small episode that can illustrate a larger
issue of how oppressions based upon race and class mutually reinforce
">Derek Alderman,</a> a geography professor at East Carolina
University who has studied the politics of naming streets for Dr.
King, said at least 650 streets have been given his name in at least
41 states, often not without controversy.
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.
"The second choices are often not the most prominent, the most
healthy streets," Dr. Alderman said.
San Diego's decision to rename a major thoroughfare, Market Street,
for Dr. King in 1986 was so unpopular that residents got an
initiative on the ballot a year later to change the name back, and
won. And in 1979, the Alabama Legislature repealed a 1976 resolution
naming a section of an Interstate highway after Dr. King.
But far more common, Dr. Alderman said, is for a city to scrap
contentious plans to rename a street well before new signs go up.
That happened last year in Muncie, Ind., and more recently in
Portsmouth, N.H., which decided to name a park for Dr. King instead.
2004</a>)</blockquote>In other words, racism runs in a vicious
circle: slavery, Jim Crow, and continuing discrimination have made
Black communities disproportionately poor; racists do not let Black
communities claim major streets and highways to honor King or other
Black leaders on the left; therefore, most of the streets named after
King are located in predominantly Black neighborhoods, economically
poorer than predominantly white neighborhoods; then, racists exploit
this fact to allege that naming a street after King brings down
"property values," ideologically reversing cause and effect!
Derek Alderman made some of his publications available to public <a
">online</a> -- I encourage you to check them out:
<li>"A Street Fit for a King: Naming Places and Commemoration in the
American South," <em>Professional Geographer</em> 52.4 <a
<li>"Street Names as Memorial Arenas: The Reputational Politics of
Commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. in a Georgia County,"
<em>Historical Geography</em> 30 <a
<li>"Street Names and the Scaling of Memory: the Politics of
Commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr within the African-American
Community," <em>Area</em> 35.2 <a
* Critical Montages: <http://montages.blogspot.com/>
* Bring Them Home Now! <http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/>
* Calendars of Events in Columbus:
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://sif.org.ohio-state.edu/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://www.solidarity-us.org/>
More information about the Marxism