Thursday, March 01, 2007

Driving The Dream: Should Michigan Road Be Renamed For MLK?

WTHR has a two-part series this week examining the issue of whether Michigan Road north of 38th Street to the county line should be renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. It currently extends south to 9th Street where it turns into West Street. There are basically two competing ideas. One is to make the entire stretch of the former Michigan Road a memorial way in honor of King. Proponents note the historical road was an integral route along the underground railroad during the days of slavery. City-County Council President Monroe Gray is leading a group who want the street renamed.

A street renaming would result in substantial costs and hardship to businesses situated along Michigan Road. Some businesses actually include Michigan Road in their name. Surprisingly, the process for getting a street renamed is much easier than the process for getting a memorial way designation. The latter is done through the city-county council and requires 2/3 of the affected property owner's signatures in support of the effort, while Mayor Peterson could simply rename the street with a stroke of his pen. Naturally, Mayor Peterson managed to take both sides of the issue during his interview with WTHR on the subject.

Personally, I think the memorial way designation makes more sense. I thought the elderly black couple had it right when they told WTHR they just wanted a sidewalk so pedestrians don't have to traverse the street at their peril. Changing the name wouldn't make the street any better, and they had lived through two names changes in their lives. A WTHR online poll also showed most respondents opposed renaming the street.


Wilson46201 said...

Who was this "Meridian" dude and why do we still have a street named after him? Why not make that oddly-named entire county-length street "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive" ?

Anonymous said...

Meridian refers to "being in the middle" and is used as a divider for the county and its coordinate system of street numbering. ie...Sherman drive is 3800 East and is 3.8 miles east of Meridian....On a side note, why am I racist if I, as a business owner, on Michigan Road, oppose renaming the street. I estimate 50,000 dollars or so to replace signage, put new decals on all my company vehicles, change business cards, letterhead, etc. I believe in EVERYTHING Dr. King stood for and we have a street named in his honor already. Opposition has nothing to do with race, but is purely a financial one for the health of my business.

Gary R. Welsh said...

michigan rd. business, I think the WTHR report showed African-Americans themselves could be found on both sides of the issue. Clearly, one can oppose the renaming without being labeled a racist.

Anonymous said...

What good would it do? He's dead!
D-E-A-D!!! Dead!!!!
Why is the gov't kicking this idea around? Just to wag the dog and draw attention away from a more serious issue.
Be afraid. Be very afraid!!

Anonymous said...

Renaming Michigan Road is insane!!!

Do NOT rename it.

The Urbanophile said...

Michigan Rd. is one of the three most historic road names in Indiana. It would be a mistake to eliminate that history. What's more, this is yet another do-nothing proposal that in no way advances the cause of black Indianapolis. I agree that the existing MLK is not an appropriate tribute to King, but the answer it not to just designate a road you like better in its place. I actually think MLK has enormous potential as one of the city's great streets, should the community decide to pursue a real vision for it. I laid out my vision for what could be in the existing MLK corridor here:

The Urbanophile said...

Try this one:

Anonymous said...

Remember what Chris Rock said about "Martin Luther King ST"!

Anonymous said...

Why did I know, as I read this excellent post, before clicking on the comments, that Wilson's post would be first?

That being said...

Why is it going to cost $50K to redo everything? 200 trucks?

Nonetheless, there would be costs. For that reason alone, it's probably not a good idea.

Why can't Monroe Gray spend time on more important things, like his fledging concrete business, and paying his debts?

Dr. King's legacy would be better served if Monroe was an honorable businessperson.

Anonymous said...

It is easy to throw this up as a smoke screen to deflect from dealing with the REAL issues that we have.

Anonymous said...

50,000 is a rough estimate to replace everything in my business that has an address on it. The estimates I get for are for new exterior signage, new decals for all my vehicles, new uniforms for my employees who work outside the business, new stationary and other office materials, and for new advertisement with the new address......Even if its only 40k, its still more than I can afford to make a change that isn't needed. That is the real point of my post.

Anonymous said...

You would think Monroe (sweetpea) Gray would spend more time cleaning up crime, illegal gambling and currupt politicians instead of the renaming of a street.

Anonymous said...

Mich. Rd. Business, I understand there is cost, but I hear these complaints all the time. It's always hard to pin down the complainers, but you graciously offered up a figure: $50K.

Just wondering, why anything needs to be changed, that costs money, other than mailing material? I'd change over truck signage as they get traded in...There is no cost to change Yellow Pages, internet ads, etc. And what business ever puts addresses on a uniform? Exterior signage is a simple-enough change: most businesses only place the street number on their storefronts. How much money would it take to do all this? Is is really $50K?

I drove up Michigan Rd. from the art museum last weekend, and purposely eyeballed signage and storefront address details. I saw nothing that said "Michigan Road" on its facade. Plenty of ugly signs on such an historic road, though...many of them faded, falling down, or just tacky. Many of them need replaced, but not because of a road name change. Many need changed because it's not 19878 any more.

The "cost of change" argument is over the top, usually. Inconveinnnt, perhaps. Costly--I just don't see it.

Still, changing the name of the road is tough. The biggest red herring in all of this is that Monroe Gray wanted to do this without even consulting the other members of the City Council, including the councilperson for the area.

Sweet Pea, Pea any name, he's just embarrassing.

And although this may be a tad late in the argument--a street which is ideally suited to this honor is Indiana Avenue, long a haven for black-owned businesses and anchored by a theatre named for a remarkable pioneering black businesswoman.

Chris Rock's line about MLK always being in a bad neighborhood is borderline funny, but in most cities, it's sadly true.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I really fail to understand why this entire thing is an issue worth discussing. Renaming the street beyond it's current boundary serves what purpose? MLK must be spinning in his grave. To think that all the problems our black community has they concern themselves with a fricking road!

Where were all the black community leaders in Indianapolis when MLK needed their blood sweat and tears? The sat silent,save for just a handful. Not only did they sit in silence but they gladly cast their votes with Dick Lugar thus issuing in UNIGOV that further kept the black community at the feet of the white power structure. It hasn't changed and yet we think renaming an extension of a road for MLK will somehow make us feel better for what little progress we have made and make amends for the apathy we showed when our brothers and sisters, white and black were spilling blood all across the South.
MLK would be ashamed of what our community has done to itself!
To hell with a road sign! Get on with making something of ourselves and our children that MLK would be proud of!

Anonymous said...

1:44 makes some sense.

As far as making MLK proud, how about some basic writing courses?

(it's, issuing in..., etc)

Anonymous said...

Not that it probably makes much difference 1:44 but our Congresswoman, Julia Carson, didn't care enough about what MLK did to even take the time to vote on the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendment Act back in July 13, 2006.
And she wants a name change on a road?
I must have missed something.

Wilson46201 said...

As a Life Member of the NAACP, Congresslady Julia Carson has long been a Hoosier pioneer in the struggle for civil rights. Anonymous nobodies are really stretching to cast aspersions...

30 years ago I recall supporting our State Senator Julia Carson carrying the bill in the Statehouse to make Dr. Kings Birthday a holiday - of course, the GOP opposed it.

Anonymous said...

uh, Wilson, it wasn't about the vote 30 years ago

It was about the vote she MISSED last year.

Try to pay attention, sweetheart...I know it's difficult, the fog you're in and everything, but try.

And, FYI, the NAACP does not have "life memberships," rather they're called "silver memberships." Open to anyone who pays them $750.

Anonymous said...

Wilson lets put the dollar amount for the small businessmen in a perspective that you can understand.
Take the true market value of your home and multiply it buy 2.5, then double the sum.
The total is how much it will cost the average small businessmen on Michigan Rd if the name change happens.

Anonymous said...

No, a memorial way should satisfy the supporters as well as the property owners. Now, can we move on to bigger issues of the day like public safety.

Dr. King did not die for the rest of us to rename streets after him.
Overall, his legacy was to judge a person for the contents of their character and not the color of their skin. Ihis community has a long way to go to achieve this goal. The DemoRats in Marion County don't know how to govern, so they use their legislative clout to hand out awards and rename buildings and streets while the city burns. It is time for the Mayor and the city-county council to get down to business and deal with real issues.

Anonymous said...

Wilson you are no friend to African-Americans. Your bigotry has been displayed throughout these blogs. You only represent the worst that society has to offer and that is nothing.

Anonymous said...

Again, the cost of name-change has bene's certainly not $50K, or even $10K, unless you're a multi-location business.

So that argument has been pretty much debunked.

If youi don't want ot change the name, fine. You're entitled to your opinions.

But stop with the excess-cost argument. It makes no sense.

The thing about Wilson's house was kinda funny. Cruel, but given the subject, still kinda funny.