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Black leaders lobby for new MLK Drive

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
March 1, 2001
Some black leaders in Meridian believe the current Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Drive isn't high profile enough to bear the name of the slain civil rights leader.
They believe the MLK designation should be transferred to 29th Avenue, a major city artery which runs from Interstate 20 to North Hills Street.
The current MLK Drive, located on a long stretch of 31st Avenue, is narrow and not widely traveled, they say. The leaders say it's time MLK Drive was moved to a street that bestows more "honor and dignity" on King.
Clark is joined in his quest by Revs. William Brown, M.L. Sampson and John Sims. Sampson is president of the local Interdenominational Minister's Alliance, while Sims serves as the president of the local Baptist Ministers Conference.
Sampson said the decision to seek re-designation of MLK Memorial Drive was also influenced by plans to close a railroad crossing on 31st Avenue.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Drive currently stops at a dead end near 23rd Street.
The group is asking MLK Jr. Memorial Drive be extended to cover all of 29th Avenue until its intersection at North Hills Street, when the name of the street changes to Great River Drive.
The four are also proposing the city rename 49th Avenue after civil rights martyr and Meridian native James Chaney. Chaney was one of three civil rights workers killed in Neshoba County in 1964.
The group presented the Meridian City Council with their petition on Feb. 20. The council voted to accept the petition and will take action on the request at a later date.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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