streets is one of the most widespread and contentious ways of
commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Debates over whether
to name a street for King and which specific street to identify with
him have led to the boycott of businesses, protest
marches, court actions, petition drives, the vandalizing of roads,
and even activists chaining themselves to street signs.
Honoring King with a street name is often controversial when
the road in question challenges long-standing racial and economic
boundaries within communities.
While few scholars have studied
the King street naming phenomena, the naming process is an important
indicator of local political tensions as well as
broader debates about race, memory, and place in
America. I have studied the politics of naming streets after
King for the past several years, seeking to understand the obstacles
that face street naming proponents and the various strategies that
communities have pursued in finding a street fit for remembering
King. In many instances (but not all), public opposition has led King's name to be socially and
geographically marginalized within cities, which has worked to stigmatize these streets and create public anxiety
about renaming more prominent streets.
a cultural geographer, my work stresses the importance that
location--the street's site, situation, and scale within
the city's larger social landscape--plays in shaping the meaning
of King's commemoration. Believing that my research and
perspectives can be of some help to the public, I have set up this
web page as a resource for engaging and assisting the movement to
remember the civil rights leader.
Below are some research papers that
I have written about naming streets for King.
Publications Related to MLK Place/Street
MLK Street Naming
Electronic copy (pdf) of community outreach
pamphlet on MLK street naming (produced 2005). Note data are now
old. Pamphlet distributed to various schools, activists groups, and
civil rights; national meetings of the NAACP and SCLC;
and MLK Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia.
Where are streets
named for King located?
want specific statistics on the number and location
of MLK streets, please contact me. Do not use map
without permision, please.