MLK, or West Fifth?

In Greenville, North Carolina, there is debate about Martin Luther King Drive, and it sounds unpleasant. This column in The Daily Reflector, written by the paper’s executive editor Al Clark, says the decision “years ago” to rename the city’s West Fifth Street after MLK, but leave East Fifth Street’s name as it was, was “a mistake.”

“This decision did as much to split Greenville’s black and white communities as the name change split the street itself,” he writes.

The details are probably clearer to the paper’s readers than to a non-resident of Greenville, but basically it seems there’s back and forth about whether to drop the MLK name and return it to West Fifth Street. Clark describes a recent city council meeting on this subject as a “raw,” temper-flaring affair.

The council ultimately voted 4-2 that night along racial lines to reaffirm a previous resolution to return the name of West Fifth Street to Martin Luther King Drive. This came up after the state Department of Transportation apparently reversed itself on whether the city could have more than one street named for King. The board first voted in December to name the U.S. 264 Bypass after King and change MLK Drive back to West Fifth.”

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