Thursday, February 04, 2010
Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you travel through Harlem and observe the street signs, you will notice a number with dual names - an older and more familiar on top and a newer below. The city renames streets for a variety of reasons. Subsequent to 9/11, many streets were renamed to honor those firefighters and police officers who lost their lives in service to the city during that tragedy.
Other streets are renamed for groups or individuals that are honored for their lifetime accomplishments. This can be most readily seen in Harlem, where many major thoroughfares have been renamed to honor prominent black Americans. These names include major black activists and entertainers. On my recent excursion to the neighborhood, I caught some of the heavyweights and photographed the signs.
On December 29, 2008, Mayor Bloomberg signed legislations renaming 49 streets and public places in the five boroughs. Some of the prominent blacks include James Brown, Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Phipps Clark, Zora Neale Hurston, Samuel J. Battle, Ella Baker, Charles Hamilton Houston, Billie Holiday, Paul Robeson, Count Basie, A. Philip Randolph, Susan Smith McKinney-Steward, Shirley Chisholm, and Marcus Garvey.
There is one glaring omission in today's photo collage. While traveling down 125th Street, Harlem's main crosstown street, I was distracted while observing all the people, places, and things, and neglected to look up and photograph a street sign conamed with a man virtually synonymous with African-American civil rights. Martin Luther King, Jr.