• July 30, 2014

There are many ways to honor King in Belton

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Posted: Sunday, August 4, 2013 4:30 am

After three attempts in the past 19 months, black church leaders in Belton last week ended their efforts to have a street named in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Their decision to curtail the campaign came after property owners living along the streets to be renamed voted to support the renaming — but not in large enough numbers to put the issue before the City Council for approval.

Of the 37 property owners polled, 15 voted in favor of the name change and 13 voted against — which equates to 54 percent for and 46 percent against. But a policy approved by the council last summer mandates the support of 70 percent of property owners in order to authorize a street renaming.

For many in Belton’s black community, the latest defeat was no doubt a bitter pill, especially since the policy was revised this year to reflect that only property owners who vote would be counted. The original policy counted each nonvote as a “no.”

Still, the chairman of the group that first asked the city to rename the street in January 2012 criticized the city’s renaming policy, calling the 70 percent threshold unrealistic.

That’s an understandable reaction, given the effort the group put into the initiative.

But it’s also important to look at the policy from a pragmatic standpoint.

First of all, it mustn’t be assumed that the property owners who voted against the change are racially insensitive or ignorant of Dr. King’s legacy.

Renaming a street has consequences for those who live along it, and they must be taken into consideration. For example, property owners must change their mailing labels and personalized stationery, notify creditors and change their driver’s licenses. Business owners must update websites, remake business cards and revise legal documents.

In addition, changing the name of an established street can cause confusion among local residents, especially when it comes to locating a business.

Finally, some people may oppose a name change just because they like the street’s name as it is — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Obviously, a 70 percent threshold for support is a difficult bar to meet — as it should be. Renaming a street affects everyone who owns property or lives there, not just a simple majority of them.

But there are other ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy, which is certainly something worthy of strong consideration.

First, the council could propose renaming a shorter stretch of road, a possibility the church leaders have favored. The portion suggested ends at the Harris Community Center, a former segregated schoolhouse, making the symbolism of the MLK renaming poignant, indeed.

Secondly, the council could consider renaming a street as an alternative description, such as in Harker Heights, where a portion of FM 2410 is jointly known as Knight’s Way. Property owners would be free to use either street name in an address.

Third, the council could work with developers to name a new street after Dr. King, establishing the name in advance.

Finally, the city should look into constructing a monument to King near the Harris Community Center or in one of the city’s parks.

A permanent memorial, complete with a plaque explaining his important place in our nation’s history would do more to honor Dr. King’s memory than would a simple street sign.

In the end, it’s important that Dr. King’s legacy be recognized and honored in communities throughout our nation — and Belton is no exception.

But it’s also important that residents have a say in the decisions of their local governments, especially when it affects them personally, as in the renaming of a street.

Hopefully, Belton residents will find a solution that is acceptable to all parties involved.

After all, people of different races and backgrounds working together is what Dr. King would have wanted.

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4 comments:

  • Viktor posted at 9:16 am on Fri, Aug 9, 2013.

    Viktor Posts: 316

    Belton's council sounds a lot like Killeen's. They look out for what they want & people's desires are secondary. Self-serving politicians are everywhere.

     
  • jbtsr posted at 9:59 pm on Sun, Aug 4, 2013.

    jbtsr Posts: 66

    Belton's city council claims that the survey sheet they invented was a sincere effort by selfless people to "Hear the people's desires" and get the process right. That is by far the BIGGEST CROCK of lies and deception ever told during the MLK effort. When the mega-million dollar, tax-exempt University of Mary Hardin Baylor requested their football stadium be approved to be built in a quiet community, was the neighboring Harris Street community and senior retirement facility sent a survey sheet to "hear the people's desires?" No, officials had no respect, as with the MLK effort, towards the citizens who will have to now endure University of Mary Harden Baylor football stadium's never-ending late night chaos, noise, traffic congestion, trash - a violation to their right to live in peace - as stated in city charter. Where was the survey sheet when University of Mary Hardin Baylor requested to name two streets? Did the council form a commission? No, they hired a PIO and paid him to lie for them.

     
  • jbtsr posted at 9:58 pm on Sun, Aug 4, 2013.

    jbtsr Posts: 66

    This editorial is very encouraging while there is great disappointment in Belton’s leadership. Their actions are offensively racist. It is the way they impeded progress when the request for MLK Street was made under old ordinance. Majority of committee was Caucasian and friends of the council. It was same way with 2013 C.I.P. 20 member committee, only one black and zero Hispanics. That was in our face. Over 20 streets in Belton have been renamed. The last streets to be renamed were one for former mayor Dwayne Digby and UMHB; the council renamed 9th and 11th Ave unanimously for University Drive and Crusader Way. In all, no rules, commissions, surveys and policies were schemed-up. Mayor Pro Tem Marion Grayson indicated (Aug 28, 2012 council meeting) that when the church’s request came forward, it became evident the city needed to develop a process. Why after all these years would she say that only when African Americans make the request - because they are black? In same meeting Covington can’t remember any streets ever being renamed, but in fact there were many he presided over and approved while sitting on the council. Dual naming a street eliminates changing of information and saying it is confusing is a poor excuse in this day of GPS and technology. If one cannot read a sign MLK 2nd Ave - they don't need to be on the road if they are that illiterate.

     
  • Eliza posted at 9:37 am on Sun, Aug 4, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 654

    @First, the council could propose renaming a shorter stretch of road, a possibility the church leaders have favored. The portion suggested ends at the Harris Community Center, a former segregated schoolhouse, making the symbolism of the MLK renaming poignant, indeed.
    -----------------------------

    I 'm not a citizen of Belton but do use the town at times for shopping, and have been interested to see how this name placing situation turns out.

    Dave Miller has mentioned several ways the citizens of Belton ,who are interested in doing so, could Honor the name of Martin Luther King Jr.
    The one I believe would be the most striking is the one listed above.
    I believe because of the symbolism of the building on the grounds, it would add even more to an Honor being paid to Dr King.

    I hope this matter is soon settled, Its went on for a rather long time when it should and could be so simple.

    Many of us not only black Americans, have used Dr Kings message at times to figure out the right and wrong of some of our ways.
    King was a man of words and when he spoke his messages, he didn't say, they were meant for any certain group but as he stated, 'All Gods People'.
    All Gods People should try to help get this name placing settled once and for all.
    There's no reasonable excuse for delaying it any longer.