The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia calls on the Charleston City Council to adopt a community proposal that would rename Court Street in downtown Charleston to a name that honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a pre-eminent voice of the Civil Rights Movement who led boycotts, advocated for nonviolent civil disobedience, and who was ultimately assassinated for his work in advocating for a more equitable society for people regardless of race.  

Court Street passes through an area that was once known as the Triangle District, a predominantly minority neighborhood that was bulldozed to make room for commerce centers like Charleston Town Center mall as part of Urban Renewal in the 1970s. Renaming the street in honor of Dr. King is a small but powerful gesture the city can and should make to its marginalized communities. 

Will renaming a street correct racial inequality that exists in Charleston today? No. Will it heal all the wounds inflicted by centuries of white supremacy? Of course not. 

But it will advance a conversation, and it will help remind us daily of the noble ideals that Dr. King sought: that all people are created equal and should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.  

In a city with multiple streets bearing the names of slave-owning families, it should be utterly uncontroversial to rename a street in honor of one of the greatest civil rights leaders in American history.

 

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