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Street renamed as King tribute

Brookhaven aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday to rename HamiltonStreet in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a city residentis hoping to pursue other educational efforts about the slain civilrights leader.

Main Street resident Rose Polly Byrd is leading a local plan torecognize and educate the public about King. She appeared at lastnight’s meeting to request the street name change.

“It would be a great honor to live and work on MLK (Drive),”Byrd said.

Bryd asked that the sections of Hamilton Street and SpruceStreet from Mullins Elementary to Main Street be renamed. She saidshe had spoken with residents on the street and they were excitedabout the prospect of the renaming.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron said many other citiesBrookhaven have renamed streets in King’s honor. He also indicatedit would be appropriate to rename a major street in the city’sblack community for King.

“I think it would do some good to do this,” Cameron said.

City officials had some questions about the street renamingprocess.

After speaking with postal officials, City Attorney Joe Fernaldsaid residents on the renamed streets would have one year to changetheir addresses. After that year, he said, the post office will notforward mail.

Bryd also mentioned street and sidewalk improvements toaccommodate plans for a monument, a walk of fame and other blackhistory efforts. Mayor Bob Massengill expressed interest in thoseprojects but asked to be allowed to deal with the street renamingfirst.

With one street renaming project on the table, Ward Six AldermanJohn E. “Buddy” Allen renewed a request to rename a section ofNorth Third Street in honor of long-time former Ward One AldermanJ.W. Morgan. A similar request was approved last year but notpursued due to technicalities.

Morgan, who served 20 years on the board from 1977-97, lives onthe two-block section that was approved to be renamed J.W. MorganWay. Allen said Morgan is a “fantastic person” who served the citywell.

“It’s an honor he’s very deserving of,” Allen said.

Contacted Wednesday, Morgan said he was grateful for the thoughtand city’s effort to rename the street.

“I’m lost for words,” Morgan said. “It’s a big honor, and Iappreciate it.”

Following the street renaming votes, aldermen approved anordinance declaring their intentions. The ordinance must bepublished before taking effect in 30 days.

While leaving the meeting, Byrd said she appreciated the cityboard’s action. She added that she was “elated” the board chose tohonor Morgan.

“We got two legends in one,” she said.

Regarding her other plans, Byrd said she hopes to form acommittee to seek grants and other funds to erect a monument at thecorner of soon-to-be MLK Drive and Monticello Street. She said themonument would include King’s “I have a dream” speech and othereducational information.

Byrd also wants to develop a Walk of Fame honoring local blackleaders throughout the city’s history.

“We have a lot of history and a lot thing going on in ourcommunity that kids don’t know about,” Byrd said. “Doing this isgoing to help.”