Community celebrates street renaming

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 2, 2005

As the words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream”speech echoed through the area, community residents and officialscame out Saturday to celebrate the dedication of a street renamedin honor of the slain civil rights leader.

Saturday’s activities began with a parade through the city andalong Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to the Dr. A.L. Lott SportsComplex for a dedication service and other activities.

“It has been a great honor and a great day to pay tribute to Dr.King,” said Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron.

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In March, aldermen voted to rename Hamilton Street and a sectionof Spruce Street for King. Mentioning King’s work for civil rightsand the trials that many black people went through, Cameron saidKing was worthy to have a street in his honor.

“You look to the past and go on to improve the future,” Cameronsaid.

Other speakers Saturday also commented on the impact King had onthe country.

“Dr. Martin Luther King opened up many doors,” said CharlesTillman, councilman for Jackson’s Ward Five.

Tillman, the older brother of Deputy Brookhaven School DistrictSuperintendent James Tillman, said it was great to be back home. Aformer school official himself in Jackson, Tillman encouraged youngpeople to stay in school to prepare for the future.

“You can take that education and really go places,” Tillmansaid.

Saturday’s dedication service began with a reading the famousspeech King gave at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington in 1963.

During brief welcoming comments, Mayor Bob Massengill said muchwork had gone into planning the celebration and he commendedcoordinator Polly Byrd and others for their efforts. He alsomentioned ongoing plans for a local Hall of Fame and other projectsalong Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

“We continue to be excited about those possibilities,”Massengill said.

The service concluded with an awards program recognizingaccomplishments of residents and businesses with connections to thestreet.

Almonia Price, 94, was recognized as the oldest resident on Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. She praised King for the work hedid.

“He was a great man and lived to preach God’s will…,” saidPrice, who also offered a tip for others to enjoy a long life. “Ifyou do God’s will and live like he wants you to, you’ll be thatold, too.”

Vernestine Byrd received the MLK award for her work with youthand community center activities.

“My biggest goal is that everybody would get involved and helpthese young people out,” Byrd said.

Saturday’s activities continued with various musical concertsinto the evening.

Polly Byrd said he was pleased with the participation. Sheexpressed a hope that next year’s celebration would be evenbetter.