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MLK Drive becomes reality

AHOSKIE – &uot;It’s a historic day here in Ahoskie.&uot;

Those were the words of Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn at the unveiling ceremony for the new Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive held here Wednesday.

The former Rhue Street was renamed to honor the late civil rights leader. Earlier this year, the Ahoskie Town Council voted to rename the street, and efforts since then have led up to Wednesday’s event.

&uot;Dr. King dedicated his life to civil rights; it’s only right to dedicate this street to him,&uot; stated Town Manager Tony Hammond.

Blackburn also said, &uot;I hope that during the time people travel this street in Ahoskie, they’ll take a moment to remember what it stands for. It’s not just a street.&uot;

Curtis Freeman, Chairman of the Hertford County Commissioners, remarked, &uot;Let’s not let this just be the naming of a street, let’s let it be the continuation of a way of life.&uot;

The guest speaker for the event was the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, who is the State President of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

Barber was born in August of 1963, the same month in which Dr. King gave his famous speech at the Civil Rights March on Washington.

Barber warned the gathered crowd of over 200 to be careful how they remembered Dr. King.

&uot;We must be careful how we remember him because he was just a man – not a mythological figure, but a man,&uot; Barber said.

He continued, &uot;He was not just a civil rights leader; he was a prophetic Christian preacher who did what he did because he had the nerve and was moved by the Spirit.&uot;

Barber went on to talk about how he believed everyone still has a long ways to come to improve the quality of life for black people in our country.

Representative Annie Mobley, who was instrumental in getting the street renamed, also made remarks during the ceremony.

&uot;I didn’t realize it had been a year since we got started, but it has and I wasn’t the only one responsible. Everyone worked together to make it possible,&uot; she said.

The theme of the day was &uot;Unity Brings Progress.&uot; After the speeches and unveiling of the new street sign, the crowd moved on to march down the street, led by town and county officials and followed by the JROTC and marching band of Hertford County High School and the marching band of Elizabeth City State University.