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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Leroy Beavers, August 8, 2002. Interview R-0170. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A street named Martin Luther King

Beavers describes his regret that a street in a blighted area of town was named for Martin Luther King. Furthermore he sees the choice of name as patronizing, a sop thrown to a black community in need of more than inspiring street names.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Leroy Beavers, August 8, 2002. Interview R-0170. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

That's the way I think about you just, sometimes it just hurts so bad. It hurts. It just goes to the bone just to see West Broad Street just go down the way it did just oh man. Then they named it MLK a man of his stature.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
You disagree with that decision.
LEROY BEAVERS, JR.:
Yes.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
How come? Tell me about that.
LEROY BEAVERS, JR.:
Because—
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I would think that Dr. King would be a real source of pride for the community.
LEROY BEAVERS, JR.:
Exactly it would be a great source of pride, but look. They take his name and put it in an impoverished area where there's a lot of plight, urban plight. You just can't go up to a street sign and say I live on MLK. I'm going to do good. That doesn't get it. What would've really been good if they would've taken Abercorn Expressway and named it MLK where always, where Mr. Brown had all the property where Oglethorpe Mall is located. A lot of black people owned a lot of property out in that area, and it was taken from them for little or nothing, ten thousand dollars for a big tract of land. That's no money, but we didn't have any money. So it was money to us. We didn't know anything about megabucks. What the hell is megabucks anyway? Ten thousand was megabucks to me. Naming a street like that. Name a street like Bull Street MLK where everybody can share in the name. Everybody wants to be able to say I live on MLK. In America the only street, all the streets that's named MLK that I've been—I've been around a lot of places. It's nothing but black people. That's more or less, that's more or less they're patronizing. Don't patronize me. Help me if you want to do anything. Let me leave the black neighborhood and go to Martin Luther King Boulevard in the white neighborhood. You know what I'm saying. You know where I'm coming from.