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Celebrating Martin Luther King while crime rages on

Update August 2008: "We are here to celebrate," says Wilhelmina Banks who led an effort with about 15 others to get two streets renamed in 2007. The streets, formerly Randall Street Expressway in Virginia and Edgemont Avenue in Tennessee, was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. There was resistance on the Tennessee side, but officials relented when charges of racism were being thrown about.

"The two streets were joined in unity at the Virginia and Tennessee state line, and renamed in honor of the esteemed civil rights, peace and social justice leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr...Both black streets were appropriated later under the urban renewal project in 1963 and most of the black families along the two streets were forced out," according to Banks.

While one person banged on a drum, the group of 15 or 20 people marched and carried signs reading Peace and Justice and Strength in Unity according to press reports. Some say, "This is a landmark celebration. It's a memorial to Dr. King" while comparing this 'memorial' to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington." OK, but I didn't know Jefferson and Washington lived in crime-ridden public housing.

Ref. BHC July 27, 2008. I do commend these people for their efforts. The new street passes by our new rebuilt Train Station at the corner of State Street that cost taxpayers about $6 million. I drove by on August 8, 2008 and it's still empty.

This "event" includes something called Let the Trumpet Sound, a parade, and the showing of a documentary film. For more info contact Wilhelmina S. Banks, curator of the NYUMBA YA TAUSI-Peacock Museum. ((276) 669-4596) The party is scheduled for July 26-27. Wilhelmina has done some good things for the community.

But what is really along Martin Luther King BLVD? It runs through Bristol, Virginia's crime-ridden public housing the City pulled the police out of after a grant ran out last year. It runs by the recently refurbished $6 million train station that has no trains to service. It crosses State Street and passes by Edgemont Towers where a boyfriend of one women shot to death several of her relatives earlier in the year. The concerns over security at that public housing project are still ignored even as a man jumped off his sixth floor balcony and splattered on the street. We did get the new Anderson Street Bridge, that cost almost $9 million built by mostly outside contractors and residents claimed by illegal aliens. This bridge saved residents form using another nearby bridge to get over some railroad tracks. But it does look nice.