Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

22Jan/140

MLK Boulevard: A Snapshot of King’s Dream Deferred

Below is a visual that captures what many of us have always commented on... the fact that so many Martin Luther King Streets, Highways and Boulevards stretch through poorly maintained, and largely African American, communities. The streets in many ways highlight the unfinished agenda of race, forced segregation and economic injustice in this country - an agenda Dr. King actively organized for (not only dreamed about) throughout his life.

Building and rebuilding (forming and reforming) our communities must remain our priority, and it's certainly not the work that brings immediate gratification. I think of the analysis and encouragement Professor John Henrik Clarke frequently offered, that more of us need to appreciate the importance of starting efforts now that future generations must continue and complete. I don't offer that as an easy-to-pass judgment of the work people do, nor to take shots at anyone. I often find myself reflecting on what I can contribute today, that will make a difference in real-time. That's important, yet I/we still have to be thinking way bigger. That's our charge. We need to be building for eternity for our children and families, and not only for a better today.

Check out the video below, as well as the corresponding piece at Colorlines by Jamilah King and Josh Begley. The fuller piece includes graphs and links to additional data and research. Nicely done.

Short excerpt:

In the nearly 50 years since his death, King’s physical legacy is seen most frequently in the streets that are named after him. There are more than 900 in the United States, the vast majority of them located in the Southeast, according to University of Tennessee geographer Derek Alderman. It’s a number that far outpaces any other comparable political icon of color, and is a testament to the hard work of many activists across several generations who have fought for the right to name public spaces in their communities. In this hyperlapse video, you can take a tour of 33 of America’s MLK streets, which is just 3.6 percent of the total.

The existence of so many Martin Luther King streets is complicated by the fact that so little of the economic justice that King fought for five decades ago has come to fruition. According to researchers at the University of North Texas, residents in neighborhoods with streets named after King are $6,000 poorer than residents in neighborhoods without one. It’s a fact that’s not surprising considering the racial wealth divide has remained stubbornly high since the Census Bureau began counting it 26 years ago.

Many thanks to Colorlines for putting this together.

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