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The Remaking of Martin Luther King Streets

They’ve been languishing for a long time but are finally becoming sites of urban intervention.
relates to The Remaking of Martin Luther King Streets
Flickr/Wally Gobetz

Many public spaces still bear names and symbols that recall America’s history of racism. But even in the cases where names places seek to signify progress—as in the case of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr.—the often-deplorable economic and physical condition of these areas suggest that racial equality is still a long way off.

"They’re a part of the larger history and geography of racism,” says Derek Alderman, a scholar of cultural geography at the University of Tennessee who has studied and written about streets named after MLK since the early 1990s. “So while you're celebrating, in effect, the Civil Rights movement which helped overcome some racism, you're still being reminded of the obstacles that continue to face African Americans.”