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MLK’s niece helps dedicate new street name in Belton

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Michael Miller | FME News Servic

Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., speaks during a street sign unveiling on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus in Belton on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.

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BELTON — The face of Belton changed Tuesday when the name of Ninth Avenue was officially changed to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue during a formal ceremony at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

King’s niece Alveda Celeste King attended and shared inspirational stories and memories of her uncle.

The change has taken more than two years to accomplish through a collaboration involving city officials, area churches and UMHB.

Alveda King, who delivered the humorous keynote speech, relayed stories and beliefs of her family. Love, peace and grace were stressed in her address, as well as hope and faith.

“Faith is taking the first step, even though you can’t see the staircase,” she said. “We have a brighter future to build the mustard seed staircase.”

Hope also was a theme and she compared life in the 1960s, when blacks weren’t as accepted in a white-dominated society, to now. In one account of years past, King recalled an episode of the “All in the Family” sitcom, “where Archie Bunker was in the hospital and received a blood transfusion from a black person and wanted to send it back.”

The future generation is key to moving on, she said. Teaching young people respect is a priority.

She said her uncle wouldn’t want credit for the more than 900 streets across America bearing his name.

“He was a very humble man. If he knew about this, he would feel humble and blessed,” she said.

City dignitaries and residents were on hand to witness the unveiling of the street signs. Belton City Manager Sam Listi said it was worth the time to make this happen.

James Stafford, director of communications and marketing for UMHB, expressed his appreciation for the community effort.

Belton resident Mary Thomas said all races and religions need to get together in love.

4 images

Michael Miller | FME News Servic

Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., speaks during a street sign unveiling on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus in Belton on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.