How to keep the dream alive

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 25, 2006

No, I’m not on Ritalin; I’ll get back on my horse after the holiday.

I’ve been watching the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. street name-change develop the past couple of months.

Originally I had decided to stay out of it, but I’m yet to see any person of color address the issue that I felt needed to be stated, so I will do it.

In my humble opinion I believe that the black community should leave Catherine Creek Road and Memorial Drive alone.

I honestly do not see what all the hoopla is by some blacks to try to bully town officials into renaming one of the city’s main thoroughfares.

It is my understanding that there is no question over whether or not Ahoskie should have a street named to honor the slain civil rights leader, it’s just a matter of where to put it.

There are two issues in my mind here that need to be addressed.

From the practical side of the matter is the fact that in the absence of any ordinance or statute establishing a protocol for the changing of street name, the decision ends up being a political issue.

If the renaming of a particular street doesn’t perk the interest of the community at large then town officials can approve the measure and move forward matter of factly.

Because the late Dr. King was an individual who championed the causes of some people does not mean he is the hero of all, or for that matter even most people.

Without question there are people in this country who do not see Dr. King as a hero at all, but rather an instigator of trouble between good folks and colored people.

I know; I get that instigator tag all of the time.

I am empathetic toward the position of white citizens in Ahoskie, who have the right to celebrate their heritage without fear of being branded racist.

That is exactly what some blacks are trying to do in this instance, force the town of Ahoskie to justify not naming CC Road or Memorial Drive.

Here is the justification for Ahoskie holding their course in my opinion.

If a group of General Robert E. Lee descendents found out that their beloved Confederate war hero had spent the night at a bed & breakfast that use to exist on First & Main Street, I wonder how those residents would react to a group lobbying to put General Lee’s name on the street signs?

I watched the city of Atlanta go through this same nonsense several years ago as black citizens damn near rioted to have a former black mayor’s name put on the city’s airport.

How many of you can name that famous black mayor? His name is on the airport!


I debated with several black leaders in a forum then, urging them to use their resources and brainpower to do something productive with the effort to memorialize the late mayor instead of just ensuring his name would be on trashed ticket stubs across the globe.

Which brings me to issue number two.

The new black movement is beginning to look more and more like a P Diddy video; all style no substance.

The argument from some blacks against renaming First Street or any other street in the predominantly black section of town is that nobody wants to name a street in the ghetto after Dr. King.

Are you serious?

Who lives in the predominantly black part of the city?

Black people.

What color was Dr. King?


What group of people did he give his life to ensure their ability to live as liberated citizens?

Black people.

If the late Dr. King were alive today and decided to visit Ahoskie, where is the first place you think he would go?

The hood, where his work is needed most.

It is insulting to blacks that live in the so-called ghetto that certain members of their own community want nothing to do with them.

It’s as if some of us have just thrown our hands up and decided to leave those children to their own devices.

I say children because that is where the future of our community is located, in the hearts and minds of our children, most of whom live in the so-called ghetto.

If you want to honor Dr. King, you go find the most run down, drug infested, poverty-ridden street in the city and you force those people to remember Dr. King.

Or you find a street ripe for economic expansion and place his name there so that as the city grows, so does the prominence of his street.

Or how about this, you petition to have his name placed on a school or some building that is affiliated with the educational process.

The people who live in the so-called ghetto are you co-workers, family members, supposed friends and most of all, fellow citizens.

You can choose to continue to deal with the bad part of the city as a police state and that will continue to increase the climate of exclusionism and anarchy.

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘you catch more flies with sugar than salt’?

I expect the police to treat people in the ghetto like animals; I don’t expect their own kinfolk to do the same.

Take the time to confront, educate and empower any group of people and their self esteem will jump leaps and bounds.

Unfortunately for the new black civil rights leaders, that would take a little too much effort.

If you want to honor Dr. King then stop running away from the people he died for, those who haven’t found their way.

I say put the street in the ghetto and help lead some of those people out of the dark.

I guess we all have different dreams.

Peace, God bless, and I hope you all have a great holiday weekend.