Thursday, April 24, 2014

MLK Jr. and Rosa Parks Boulevard

Image from emmonsok.wordpress.com

Driving through Seattle, I see the signs directing traffic from the freeway to MLK, Jr. Boulevard. It is one of hundreds of streets in the US named for Dr. Martin Luther King, the civil rights leader who had a dream.

Portland has both an MLK, Jr. Boulevard and a Rosa Parks Way, and they intersect. In 2009, changing the street name to Rosa Parks caused opposition, reported Margaret Haberman.

Later the citizens of Portland had to adapt to the change of another street name to honour the farm labourers' Union organizer Cesar Chavez.

Online, people continue to express mixed views on the re-naming of streets after King, Parks, and Chavez. Color Lines suggested recently that King's dream was "deferred" on the very streets that were named after him; the Seattle Times expressed the same idea in January.

In The Oregonian, Haberman reported on a more positive development regarding MLK Boulevard in Portland.

People oppose change. There's a fuss, then people get over it. Time heals all wounds. And, as Groucho Marx once said, time also "wounds all heels."

Does it really? Does it wound heels who oppose giving posthumous honours to those who promote positive social change? If not, maybe it should.

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