Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

King's Namesake Streets Often Fall through Cracks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

King's Namesake Streets Often Fall through Cracks

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- In the 32 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was cut down by an assassin's bullet, the streets, avenues and boulevards that bear his name have struggled to live up to his ideals.

Code enforcement is lax and signs of official neglect are everywhere.

"I don't think that the young people have learned to appreciate what Dr. King tried to accomplish and did accomplish," said James Monroe Williams, who lives on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, about a mile from the official Fort Lauderdale celebration on the civil rights leader's birthday.

When he looks across the street, he sees a weed- and trash-strewn lot.

He said his grandchildren, ages 12 and 13, are good students who fear waiting for the school bus.

"They are afraid to go around the corner," he said. "They said that the dope dealers were there and the kids were smoking dope right there on the corner before they'd go to school."

Although the street signs named for the civil rights leader are a tribute to the causes he championed, they also symbolize how far society has not come since King's assassination.

Josephus Eggelletion, the sole black member of the Broward County Commission, touched yesterday on the irony during a speech at Fort Lauderdale's Martin Luther King Day celebration on Sistrunk Boulevard.

"His legacy is a street where there is high crime, where there is violence," Eggelletion said.

South Florida is not unique.

LACK OF RESPECT

"Every social problem that plagues our communities occurs on Martin Luther King boulevards all across the country," said Jerry Kolo, a professor of urban affairs at Florida Atlantic University. "Year-round, these streets and roads and boulevards should be kept in conditions that show our respect for Dr. King and the values that he propounded while he was alive. They don't. This kind of tokenistic gesture should be the same as making mockery of what this guy really meant to our society and to our world. …

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